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Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Gender Equity Program


Supporting our female scientists advance their careers in medical research

The greatest attrition of young researchers occurs at the transition from postdoctoral fellow to independent researcher – and most who leave are women. The loss of so many talented mid-career researchers, particularly women, impacts our nation’s scientific performance, innovation and productivity. Despite roughly equal numbers of men and women obtaining PhDs in Biological Sciences, there is a marked under-representation of women in senior scientist positions. This disparity can be seen at research institutes around the world.

Centenary is now enhancing its efforts to support female researchers with family responsibilities, as well as providing female specific awards and mentoring to early-mid career researchers, which will result in a significant boost to future career prospects.

Centenary’s Gender Equity Awards Program now offers – dependent on funding – the following awards to help progress the careers of promising female scientists at Centenary. Each award is aimed at ameliorating a particular bottleneck in the career track of women.

2017 Bank of Queensland Gender Equity Early Career Award Announcement – read the Media Release here


Bottleneck: Acquiring research funding is the first step towards an independent scientific career. Women are consistently less likely to receive research funding compared to their male counterparts (NHMRC outcomes for project funding by gender, 2014). A lack of early career funding success can compound throughout a career, as funding success tends to beget more funding success. Early efforts to combat this disadvantage should result in better long-term results.

Aims: This award will provide an opportunity for women scientists to:

  • Obtain early career funding.
  • Provide seed funding for pilot studies to generate preliminary data, which is an essential prerequisite for obtaining competitive project grants.
  • Be used for conference travel to meet other researchers, strike meaningful collaborations and build essential networks.
  • Both enhance the recipient’s CV and increase the likelihood of future funding success.

Funding: $34,500 will be awarded to an early career female Centenary researcher.The award can be spent on general research costs as well as conference travel.

Eligibility: Open to female applicants 3-10 years post PhD (consideration will be given to career disruptions). Must not have previously held a “Gender Equity Early Career Award”


Bottleneck: Childrearing responsibilities are generally borne by women (Mcguire et al., 2012). Female scientists often have children in the early to mid-career period, while they are still establishing themselves as an independent researcher.This period is crucial for a post-doctoral research scientist to prove their productivity, it is a period with high job insecurity, and is the most competitive period in a scientist’s career (competition for post-doctoral fellowships and faculty/ lecturing positions is fierce). Maternity leave and childcare responsibilities may result in a loss of productivity in this critical time.


Aim: To provide technical / postdoctoral support for mid-career women scientists.This funding will facilitate the continuation of research projects over the maternity leave period, and support the recipients return to work.

Funding: A maximum of $46,000 will be awarded to a female Centenary researcher for the purpose of hiring a research assistant or research officer for the period of 6-months (maternity leave period) to continue an ongoing research project.

Eligibility: Must have PhD and current grant funding. Must be primary carer for a new baby and take at least 3 months maternity leave.


Aim: Female postdoctoral fellows and Group Leaders will be eligible for a limited number of support packages to assist with childcare costs for pre-school-age children.

Funding: Up to $17,250 per annum available to either support the return to the workplace for an additional day or support childcare costs

Eligibility: Recipients must provide evidence of childcare costs or requirement to return to the workforce for an additional day to continue their project. Selection criteria may be applied.


Aim: It is more difficult for women with childcare responsibilities to attend conferences both physically and financially.This award will provide financial support to assist with travel costs or of the care of children whilst the scientist is attending a conference, seminar or training (national or international).This can be used either to fund a companion to travel with the scientist to assist with childcare, or for additional days of childcare during the conference, seminar or training course.

Funding: A maximum of $5,000 will be provided. Recipient must provide evidence of the flight, travel or childcare costs and report on how the funds have assisted in advancing their career.

Eligibility: Female postdoctoral fellows and laboratory heads with pre-school-age children (<5 years old) can apply for support to attend meetings and conferences, peer-review committees and other academic activities.


Bottleneck: The number of women researchers in science steadily decreases with increasing seniority. Centenary is no exception with only 17% of senior scientist positions held by women, despite 49% of post-doctoral positions being filled by women. Apart from child rearing responsibilities, other issues contributing to the loss of female researchers include unconscious gender bias, as well as the fact that women tend to be less aggressive in pursuing promotions. The lack of positive female role models and mentors in senior positions is also an issue.

Aim: This award aims to encourage and facilitate the transition of high achieving women scientists from mid-level positions into senior leadership positions at Centenary.This award will take the form of funding and the establishment of a mentoring relationship. A senior scientist will be assigned to mentor the recipient on how to improve their chances of being promoted to a member of faculty in the future.The recipient will also chair the Gender Equity Committee and be responsible for communicating issues and initiatives related to the activities of this committee to the Institute.

Funding: $230,000 for two years. The fellowship can be awarded biannually, dependent on funding, and is available to a mid-career female researcher or new laboratory head. Can be used for any costs related to research including salary, consumables, travel, administration or training necessary to transition to Senior Research Officer / Associate Faculty / Faculty.

Eligibility: Must have a record in previous or current grant funding. Must be at Research Officer level 5 or above. Cannot already be on Centenary Faculty (Associate Faculty is acceptable). Must not have previously held this Fellowship.

Selection Criteria:

  • 50% track record (CV)
  • 50% future career outline/research plans (4 pages including figures and references)

Fellowship Duties:

  • The recipient will act as Chair for the Gender Equity Committee for the duration of the award
  • The recipient will give a seminar on the progress of Gender Equity initiatives at Centenary and the issues pertaining to women in science generally.
  • Commit to ongoing mentorship and leadership of her group
  • Mentor the recipient of the early career award



Aim: The Innovation Award is intended to assist early-mid career researchers in the establishment phase of their careers.These funds will enable them to initiate new medical research opportunities through an innovative research project and place them in a stronger position to received further funds from government funding bodies (i.e., NHMRC).The award will not be assessed based on track record – but based on the novelty of the research idea and/or the use of innovative research techniques.

Funding: $5,000 – $50,000 to provide either seed funding for an innovative proof of concept ($5,000 – $20,000) or to assist in the pilot of a new study ($20,000 – $50,000).


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