Lauren Harrison, RSB PhD student - International Day of Women and Girls in Science

PhD student Lauren Harrison shows her mentor, Dr Tory Clarke, her study species

Last year the ANU announced that, for the first time, a woman would become Chancellor. Julie Bishop, Australia’s former foreign minister and once a singular presence amongst a sea of stern liberal men, took on the role of Chancellor earlier this month. For me, and perhaps other women, seeing such an influential female take over a position of power traditionally held by men means that we have another role model to aspire to. And I think that is exciting! I’m a second-year PhD student studying behavioural ecology. So far I haven’t had the negative experiences that many other women warn of, but I know that I am only at the very beginning of my journey. Most of the academics involved in my PhD are male, so when I began my PhD I wanted to talk to someone who I thought could better relate to my experiences. That’s why I signed up to the mentoring program during my first year. Here at RSB, post docs can sign up to mentor PhD students, usually first years, and both meet up once a month to chat. Tory Clarke has been my mentor for about 2 years now and it has been so helpful to talk to her about PhD life and many other things that might seem mundane to talk about with your supervisor, but are a big deal to you! I’ve since taken over the role of organizing the mentoring program (along with Coast) and I’m happy to say that we have more female PhD students signing up, and more female post docs offering to be mentors each year! But there is still a long way to go; in 2019, less than half of all mentors and mentees were female. Perhaps 2020 will see more women in science helping each other!

Lauren Harrison and Onoriode Coast currently co-ordinate the RSB in-house mentoring program for PhD students. Contact Lauren or Coast for more information if you wish to be involved.