Creating future leaders: we join Franklin Women Mentoring program

(L-R) Maree Hackett and Kelly Thompson, The George Institute's participants in the inaugural Franklin Women Mentoring Program.

The George Institute for Global Health is proud to be a partner organisation in a new and innovative mentoring program aimed at supporting up-and-coming female health researchers to reach leadership positions.

The Franklin Women Mentoring Program pairs senior researchers established in their careers with early-career female researchers from different organisations in a mentor-mentee relationship. Twelve of Australia’s top health and medical research organisations are taking part: in addition to The George Institute, these are UNSW Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, Children’s Medical Research Institute, Centenary Institute, Ingham Institute, Heart Research Institute, Garvan Institute, Children’s Cancer Institute, Macquarie University, University of Sydney, and Kolling Institute.

Franklin Women founder, Dr Melina Georgousakis, said: “Our mentoring program is the first of its kind in the sector connecting female researchers with male and female leaders from diverse organisations who will embark on an important mentoring relationship. The fact that so many health research organisations have come on board for the inaugural year of our mentoring program demonstrates their commitment to addressing the gender imbalance in the sector and the expected impact the program will have.”

While girls and young women excel in science during school and university, women in science do not go on to reach leadership positions at the same rate as their male colleagues. “Only a small proportion of the top positions in science are held by women. This means somewhere along the way we are losing the knowledge and passion of women who have dedicated their careers to saving lives through their research. We need to support researchers like these so we do not lose their talent,” said Dr Georgousakis.

From The George Institute, Associate Professor Maree Hackett, Acting Director of the Neurological Health Division, will be one of the mentors, while Ms Kelly Thompson, PhD student and a Senior Clinical Research Associate, is one of the mentees.

Associate Professor Hackett said: “It is a very exciting opportunity to be invited to facilitate and support the career progression of some of our top health researchers through the inaugural Franklin Women Mentoring Program. Franklin Women, along with key partner organisations like The George Institute, have invested in this program having recognised that women are less likely to progress to senior leadership positions or be awarded senior fellowships. The program, run with the support of Serendis, also ensures that the mentors are adequately supported to provide proven mentoring strategies.”

Kelly said: “It’s such an honour to be selected as the first George Institute mentee in this incredibly important program which aims to help advance the careers of female researchers and to support narrowing the vast gender gap that exists between male and female researchers in top positions. That TGI is involved in this inaugural program speaks to its commitment as an organisation to addressing gender imbalance in medical research and that in itself is very reassuring for me, as a young female researcher.”

Over the next six months, Maree and Kelly will work closely with their respective mentee/mentors one-on-one and through structured workshops and courses organised by Franklin Women.

Find out more about the Franklin Women and the mentoring program.