UniSA support keeps research on track for new mums

Pregnant woman discusses strategy with research team. COMMUNITY

A new fund will provide UniSA researchers who are also new mothers with the opportunity to access additional support to maintain the momentum of their research.

Professor Tanya MonroUniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro, is making a personal donation to establish the scheme, Research Momentum During Maternity Leave, which will make $80,000 available over the next two years.

The fund is designed to cover a range of ad hoc expenses that will make it easier for women to manage their research commitments and the demands of a new baby.

Prof Monro, one of the world’s leading experts in photonics, had three children of her own during some of the most intensive periods of her research career.

“I understand only too well the absolute tension between wanting to keep the research on track and wanting to ensure you are giving your child everything they need in terms of care and nurturing,” Prof Monro says.

“And sometimes it is the smallest supports that can make all the difference – support from a research assistant to keep vital experiments moving, a plane fare, someone to answer the phones and take care of an email backlog, a few hours of some accounting services.

“What I hope this fund will do is smooth out some of the little hurdles that slow women down at a time when they have a lot to contend with.”

Prof Monro says the fund is designed to be flexible and will be granted to women in response to cases being put forward for support.

“I want the money to be used in ways that release the pressure on women researchers and helps them to keep momentum during their leave or shortly after their return to work without feeling they’ve had to sacrifice time with their baby,” Prof Monro says.

“Women at UniSA are involved in some really vital research – research that will make a difference to human health, the environment, to education and industry. It is important that we support them to make the developments and breakthroughs that are important for us all.”

UniSA is a member of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program, which rates the gender equity policies and practices of participating organisations with gold, silver or bronze awards.

Modelled on the successful Athena SWAN Charter in the UK, SAGE is a now a national program promoting gender equity in science and research organisations, particularly for woman in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

UniSA researchers who are interested in accessing the Research Momentum During Maternity Leave scheme should keep an eye out for further announcements about how to apply. Enquiries can be directed to Professor Pat Buckley, Dean of Graduate Studies.