Female speaker doing a presentation

Open Day opens doors for female students

17 August 2018
Academics showcase career paths available to women entering Uni
The opportunities available to young women entering university are endless, but sometimes it’s hard to imagine where a degree might take you. That’s why female academics are reaching out to tell their inspiring stories.

The University of Sydney is committed to advancing gender equity with the initiation of pilot programs like SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity) and the Women in Science project which have been gaining significant momentum in recent years.

These programs were developed to address the underrepresentation of women in senior roles within the STEAMM (Science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and medicine) disciplines.

Although there has been an encouraging increase in female enrolment in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, more can be done to ensure females pursue further education and secure leadership positions in their chosen field.

To address this problem, 20-plus highly successful female researchers are stepping onto soapboxes on Open Day for ‘STEAMM in Action!’, an all-day event which seeks to promote the broad range of career paths available to women.

“Students need to see exciting female researchers that are not dramatically older than themselves succeeding in their careers to be inspired.”
Associate Professor Kellie Charles

Academics will give 30-minute informal talks about their journey beyond graduation, offering insightful tips about pursuing a unique career in fields like architecture, science, engineering, agriculture, health, mathematics, medicine and many more.

“Open Day is about inspiring people and creating a dream,” said Associate Professor Kellie Charles, a Lecturer in Pharmacology.

“We have a lot of female undergraduates but what you don’t see is what women do next after graduating. It’s essential that we vocalise the kind of jobs young women can do.

“Students need to see exciting female researchers that are not dramatically older than themselves succeeding in their careers to be inspired.”

“The variety of sciences that are out there, are well beyond what these young women imagine they might want to do when they finish high school,” she said.

Kellie first came up with the idea for STEAMM in Action! while representing the University in the World Economic Forum Young Scientists Community. She attended two meetings in China about innovation in science and technology from a global perspective.

“Advancements in science have large implications on society and it’s essential that we communicate this to the public in an engaging way.”

“Most of the other Young Scientists at the event mentioned that they held science festivals at their institutions and I thought we were missing that at University of Sydney.”

On return Kellie sat down with Professor Renae Ryan the Academic Director of SAGE to talk about organising a Soapbox Science inspired event.

“I thought I could use my voice as Academic Lead (Research) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health to promote the life-changing research performed by female academics.”

“This event will inspire both potential students and their parents to see that the University is full of exciting opportunities for STEAMM research. The sky really is the limit when it comes to studying at University of Sydney,” Kellie explained.

“I have been very lucky to travel and live all over the world with this amazing career, I want others to see our passion and create change in the world.”

Join us for Open Day on 25 August, where you can hear from the female super-group involved in STEAMM in Action!

Talks will be held all-day, from 10 to 2:30pm outside the Anderson Stuart Building on Eastern Avenue. Schedule of speakers below.

Time slot




Kimberley Kaufman

Brain Cancer


Julie Cairney

Materials engineering, microscopy and arts


Karin Aubrey

How brains sense pain


Kumudika de Silva

Discovering the secrets of immune fitness


Fabienne Brilot-Turville

Autoantibodies in brain immune-mediated diseases


Celine Van Golde

Not Guilty project, psychology and criminology


Sophie Webber

Interactions between climate change and policy


Claire O'Reilly

Quality use of medicines for mental health


Michelle Irving

Improving oral health in rural communities


Elspeth Probyn

Marine Ecology and society


Kellie Charles

Immune cell complexity - identifying new targets for cancer


Christina Adler

Evolution of dental microbiome


Clare Mahon

Polymer brushes for identification of pathogens


Camilla Hoyos

The psychology of sleep and impact on health


Chiara Neto

Nature's nanoscience


Karina Mak

Psychology of the “imposter phenomenon"


Joanne Arciuli

Speech science


Catherine Grueber

Zoology, species diversity protection, evolutionary theory


Anna Ceguerra

Atom probe analysis of glass and microscopy


Shelley Wickham

Genetic sensors


Tanya Latty

The biology of bees and their behaviours


Na Liu

Health Information Technology and information Systems


Haryana Dhillon

Cancer survivorship and psycho-oncology


Jennifer Kent

Health impacts of transport