Scholarship to help balance academia and parenthood

Balancing parenthood with academia is set to become easier with a UNSW Medicine scholarship that helps early career women focus on research when returning to work after parental leave.

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Scholarship named in her honour - Professor Minoti Apte OAM

Balancing parenthood with academia is set to become easier with a UNSW Medicine scholarship that helps early career women focus on research when returning to work after parental leave.

The scholarship – named after NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year Professor Minoti Apte OAM – will provide eligible staff with relief from teaching and administration to write publications, applications and/or access research assistance. UNSW Medicine Dean Rodney Phillips said the scholarship – the first of its kind in the faculty – reinforces a long and proud tradition of employing and promoting female academics across all schools and affiliated research institutes.

“Some of the nation’s leading academics and researchers are also mothers and it is vital that we do everything we can to support women who are balancing parenthood with academia,” Professor Phillips said. 

Professor Phillips also highlighted the scholarship’s alignment to a University-wide commitment to a pilot of the Athena SWAN program; a highly successful UK-based charter established to encourage career advancement for women in higher education and research working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

Professor Apte, who is based at the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, said she was thrilled the award was named in her honour and said supporting mothers to continue to flourish in their academic research career is vital. According to the latest Catalyst figures, women hold just 29.9% of ‘above senior lecturer’ positions in Australia.

“My path from medical student to senior academic while raising a family was challenging. I was lucky to have received a lot of support but inequality and disadvantage for women returning to work remains a big problem in Australia,” she said.

“This scholarships shows that UNSW Medicine is leading the way in creating family-friendly workplace arrangements and supporting women who want to balance family with pursuing a career in science, academia or medical research.” 

The idea for the scholarship came from Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine Professor Raina MacIntyre who has also experienced first-hand the challenge of juggling motherhood with a successful career in academia.

“This scholarship is not only about providing mothers with time for research, it is also about sending female academics in the faculty the message that their research and career is important, and that retaining bright women in the workforce is a priority,” she said.

The first scholarship recipient is expected to be announced in November 2015. The maximum amount available per scholarship will be $20,000.

Applications close 30 September 2015.  For more detailed information go to: https://med.unsw.edu.au/academic-women-unsw-medicine