1 Oct 2020

Applying the gendered lens to a post-COVID academia: an Australian perspective

Figure 1 reproduced from the British Society for Immunology article. Gendered trends in application and funding rates for two major Australian NHMRC schemes, Ideas and Investigator grants, for 2020. A) The number of applications from females is consistently lower for both schemes; B) the proportion of applications from females at each stage for the Investigator grants drops substantially from mid-career onwards; and C) the proportion of applications deemed fundable after removal of the structural priority (SP) scheme is markedly lower for female as compared with male applicants in both schemes. (See 'Outcomes of funding rounds')

At this moment, the value of immunology research couldn’t be more visible as our colleagues work tirelessly to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Nevertheless, the global academic job market is on the verge of collapse due to the pandemic and we risk reversing the significant gains made towards gender equity in the workplace. Here, Dr Jessica Borger, Dr Kate Lawlor and Dr Kylie Quinn consider how to dissipate the gendered impacts of COVID-19 with a coordinated effort across universities, funding bodies and professional societies. 

Dr Jessica Borger is an immunologist at Monash University with diverse research interests in both cancer immunotherapy and chronic lung disease. She is also a passionate science communicator and advocate for gender equality in STEM.

Dr Kate Lawlor is an immunologist at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, whose research focuses on how cell death contributes to inflammatory and infectious disease. She is co-chair of the Equity and Diversity Committee at Hudson Institute and an advocate for gender equality in STEM.

Dr Kylie Quinn is an immunologist at RMIT University, whose research focuses on the impact of ageing on immune-based therapies such as vaccines and chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy. She is a keen science communicator and current Women’s Initiative Coordinator for the Australia and New Zealand Society of Immunology.

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