WiSE Summit announced


The challenge

More women are studying science at university than men. But they’re not staying in science. We’re losing them mid-career.

We, as a nation, are not successfully supporting their transition into independent researchers and science leaders. The loss of these highly trained smart women is economically and culturally damaging to Australia.

And in the physical sciences and engineering we’re still further behind in achieving gender equity. Far too few young women are considering engineering and the physical sciences as potential career paths.

The response

The Australian National Commission for UNESCO, the Australian National Committee for UN Women and the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies are holding the:

Women in Science and Engineering Summit (WiSE)
at Parliament House in Canberra on 11 April 2011

The loss of these highly trained, smart women means we are not tapping into our full national innovation potential.

The Summit brings together science and industry leaders, advocates, and high-achieving young women in science and engineering in a high profile event to:

  • highlight the issues
  • encourage science and engineering leaders to take practical steps to secure a higher return on their investment in young women scientists and engineers
  • explore other opportunities to improve gender equality in science and engineering.

Why now?

The Summit follows the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 55) in New York (22 February – 4 March 2011) where the priority theme for the session was:   Women and girls in science and technologies: increasing opportunities in education, research and employment and whose vision is:

To help realise the potential in science, technology and innovation by widening the talent pool of scientists and engineers in public and private domains through engaging more girls and women in science, engineering and technology.

On 24 February 2011 in New York, the Hon Kate Ellis MP, Federal Minister for the Status of Women delivered the Country Statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women New York City.  The speech can be downloaded here: http://www.kateellis.com.au/speeches/184/

Continued under-representation and under-participation of women in SET-based education, training and employment inhibits Australia’s capacity to boost productivity and innovation, and stifles our efforts to develop internationally competitive research and industries.

The WiSE Summit will bring together Australia’s political leaders, science professionals, educators, and industry group leaders to act on this important topic.  It creates an opportunity to help Australia realise its full potential in science, technology and innovation.

The Summit Program

10 am:



Summit launch: Sue Conde AM, President, UN Women Australia


Outline of issues faced by women in science and engineering.


Case studies of what has worked and what hasn’t in the science and engineering sector.

12.00 – 2.00pm:

Lunch in Parliamentary Dining Room.

2.00 – 3.30pm:

Concurrent roundtables covering:

1.       Improving the workplace /practical tips for managers on gender equity in the research lab and in industry/creating flexible workplaces

2.       Balancing career and family – practical tips on how to make it work.

3.       Attracting school and university students to the physical sciences, engineering and maths.

4.       Changing the system–leaders of science and engineering agencies in discussion with the Hon Kate Ellis MP (invite only)

3.30 pm:

Participants rejoin. Leaders in the science and engineering sector announce their commitments.

3.45 pm:

Summit close: Anthea Tinney, Chair, Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

How to participate

The Summit is open to anyone with an interest in improving gender equity in science and engineering. Participation is free but places are limited.

To register please email niall@scienceinpublic.com.au. Please include your contact details and a brief (less than 50 word) statement on your interest in the issue. This information may be shared with fellow delegates.

For more information

Please contact

  • Anna-Maria Arabia, the Chief Executive Officer of FASTS, annamaria.arabia@fasts.org or phone 02 6257 2891,

The Women in Science and Engineering Summit is organised by:

UNESCO and UN Women Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies

The Women in Science and Engineering Summit is supported by:

Major Sponsors:

CSIRO telstra-foundation
ANSTO Cochlear Ltd.

Also supported by:

WEHI National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Australian Research Council AAS
Bio21 Victorian Endowment for Science Knowledge and Innovation (VESKI)