Women in medical research: Headaches and hurdles

Prue Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Very few women have professorial status in Australian medical schools. However, there are approximately equal numbers of male and female PhD students in biomedical research at Australian universities. At Finders University of South Australia, females comprise approximately 25% of academics in the School of Medicine, with 75% of general staff (including research staff without academic status, e.g. research assistants, research officers) being female. Females comprise 29% of Fellows in the highly competitive Career Awards Scheme of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC; 26% excluding those of the lowest rank, namely RD Wright Fellows). In both systems, a higher percentage of women are appointed to the lower levels. The statistics suggest that the main hurdle for women in medical research is the inability to progress in the postdoctoral ranks (e.g. appointment to, or promotion from, academic Level A/B positions (Tutor/Lecturer) or appointment to the NHMRC Research Fellowships Scheme). This may reflect the conflicts that women face in their debate of the priorities of family (children and partner) versus career, or research versus teaching and professional activities. All medical research is time-demanding and continuing research funds an difficult to obtain. Women and men have similar success rates for obtaining funds from the NHMRC. However, a greater percentage of women academics do not apply for grants. Why? Can women be helped to play a larger role in medical research?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-887
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


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