August 14, 2015
Australia’s remarkable female scientists highlighted in new exhibition in Canberra
The careers of 40 female Australian scientists are being featured in a new exhibition as part of National Science Week in Canberra.
The League of Remarkable Women in Australian Science shares the stories of how the women entered their research fields and the hurdles they faced along the way.
Interactive displays within the exhibition are designed to give positive examples to the next generation of female researchers.
Australian National University (ANU) microbiologist Denisse Leyton is one of the scientists showcased.
She told 666 ABC Canberra her interest in research about infectious diseases and bacterial pathogens began while in her teens.
"I've been quite fond of microbes, our invisible friends, for a very long time," Dr Leyton said.
"Since Year 12, when I had a fabulous biology teacher, and so it went from there.
"I've also had a very prominent mentor in my scientific life to help; it is incredibly important."
Dr Leyton is one of the finalists for this year's Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research.
She was excited about the idea that young women in remote places such as Broome and Townsville could be encouraged by her story.
"I know for me having a female PhD supervisor was really nice," she said.
"I learnt so much from her and [from] seeing her in the position at that time.
"It was very motivating for me and if I could do that for others, it would be brilliant."
Inspirational stories for girls interested in science
Biochemist and molecular biologist Anne-Sophie Dielen is a co-organiser of the exhibition at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, with plant physiologist Britta Forster.
Dr Dielen started a website, which led to the exhibition about top female scientists, after experiencing obstacles in her own career.
"I had a lot of issues with self-confidence and a belief that I wasn't good enough to be able to do this [research work]," Dr Dielen said.
"And I found it very sad and scary to see that in some of my students too.
"So I wanted to give female university students and high school students positive examples, and show them stories, and have role models and mentors.
"They shouldn't listen to people who say 'girls don't do science or physics' and yes, they can do it."
The exhibition includes female researchers working on plant biology, optics, physics and even someone studying the chemistry in Aboriginal art.
"The League started as a website [after] I had lots of emails from PhD students," Dr Dielen explained.
"When they were not feeling good, they would go and read a couple of interviews and feel much better.
"And I know a few students have actually contacted the people who have been featured for more information."
The interviews with the 40 remarkable female scientists are being compiled into an e-book which will be sent to high schools to inspire future researchers.
To view the original interviews, go here.view full article