Women’s luncheon proves inspirational


The second AusBiotech NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon was warmly received as guest speakers, Melissa McGregor, Dr Elizabeth Eastland and Jacqueline Savage, united and inspired the 270 women who attended.

Hosted by AusBiotech Deputy CEO, Lorraine Chiroiu, the luncheon, introduced the theme ‘women with courage’: “The courage to lead; the courage to face what scares you; the courage to be the best person you can be; the courage to change what needs to be changed.”

“While women have made leaps and bounds in the life sciences, there is still a long way to go,” said Chiroiu. “Women represent just 16% of the STEM-qualified population in Australia and there remains a significant pay gap between men and women in this area.”

Guest speakers spoke not on their respective successes, but on examples of the courage and tenacity that has enabled them in their careers and how they are supporting others to progress.

Pfizer Australia and New Zealand Managing Director, Melissa McGregor, said: "It's about being prepared to take risks, and about being comfortable with being uncomfortable."

Dr Elizabeth Eastland, General Manager of Strategy, Market Vision and Innovation for the CSIRO said that while it hard to take risks, women needed to be prepared to "look a little bit stupid" while they learn and travel the road less travelled.

Jacqueline Savage, founder and CEO of start-up medtech company MedCorp spoke about her path to developing a medical technology and how women can control the doubting inner voice.

AusBiotech, as part of its commitment to supporting women in the life sciences offered two AusBiotech Student Members to be able to participate in the event by sharing their vision for women in life sciences.

The winners were: Amanda Skellern, currently in her final year of a double degree in Commerce and Science (Advanced) with majors in Molecular Biology & Genetics and immunology at Sydney University and Kate Weatherby, who has just completed a PhD in Microbiology at Sydney University.

Amanda Skeller said: “This event seems like an amazing opportunity for me to get exposure to successful women in an industry that I dream to work in when I graduate. My vision is to see the constant collaboration of passionate and talented women at all levels throughout STEM-based industries.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw… that women only represent 16% of the STEM-qualified population! Together as women we should always stay proactive about ensuring equal and fair representation in positions and fields that we are capable of excelling in. I have met so many talented and intelligent women throughout my studies, often skilled in multiple STEM and business fields. I really hope that they all go on to contribute their unique and powerful expertise to biotechnology, IT, and engineering sectors - and help change the course of these burgeoning STEM industries.”

Kate Weatherby said: “My vision for women in STEM is that women of all stages of their careers actively support each other to fulfil their potential. That strong female role models demonstrate that women are just as capable as men and should be entitled to the same opportunities and treatment. My hope is that with strong female STEM representatives a shift will be made away from the idea that STEM is primarily for males and we can reach the point as a society where female CEOs and Directors of STEM based corporations are not an anomaly but a sign of equality.”

Selected photos of the event can be found online.

Other photos taken at the event can be accessed by attendees only, by contacting events@ausbiotech.org for the link and password.