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Baker Institute introduces gender equity fellowship to support women scientists to stay in workforce

As she was considering the merits of returning to full-time work as a scientist, Stephanie Yiallourou found herself wondering about school drop-off.

Although holding a meeting before 9:30am would not ruffle feathers among her male colleagues, the prospect of cradling a phone with her shoulder while getting her boys ready for the day was unappealing.

And so was giving up her profession like the many female scientists who have felt they could only be devoted to one thing.

But unlike her contemporaries, Dr Yiallourou was not forced to make the choice between a career and her family, thanks to the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute where she works.

The 37-year-old scientist is one of the institute’s gender equity fellows and the beneficiary of a suite of new measures to make it easier for women to stay in science.

“Without this support I would probably have fallen into the statistic of leaving research at this stage of my career,” Dr Yiallourou said.

As part of the new measures at the Baker Institute, meeting times are now family friendly to ensure parents do not feel the squeeze and the cost of a carer is covered if women scientists attend a conference.

There is also a $150,000 gender equity fellowship and a $10,000 grant for a research assistant to allow women to continue their work while they take maternity leave.

The hope among scientists like Dr Yiallourou is that it will encourage women to come back to work after having children.

“We know the statistics,” she said.

“We know women leave research and we know that more males than females obtain the project grants and things like that.

“So if women can obtain a level of equity with males, which is what this fellowship provides, then our future as researchers is looking much brighter.”

This article is courtesy of our proud precinct partner, Baker Institute