Despite Elizabeth Blackburn’s Nobel win, women face battles

Leigh Dayton; 20/10/09

Australia’s Nobel prize-winning molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn lamented recently the professional difficulties facing female scientists – and a new study proves her right. Women still cluster at the bottom of the scientific heap, even in fields such as biology where they are well represented, according to a report released yesterday by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies. “It was a wonderful day when I read her (Blackburn) saying those things (in The Australian) – she knew by experience,” said the report’s author, Sharon Bell, an anthropologist with Melbourne University. In her report, Australia, Women in Science in Australia: Maximising Productivity, Diversity and Innovation, Professor Bell concludes that not only do women scientists get fewer senior jobs than men, they also earn less than their male counterparts, receive less recognition in measures of scientific excellence and hold fewer memberships in scientific academies.