It is hard to believe, given its success, that only four years ago, Franklin Women was just an idea in one researcher’s mind.
That researcher was Melina Georgousakis and the idea was to create a social networking platform for female health and medical researchers.
Franklin Women arose from Melina’s personal experience in the research industry where she was shocked to discover a large exodus of women from the profession, particularly once they made the decision to start a family.
“A lot of my colleagues were leaving the profession to have families because combining a family and a career in research has, historically, been quite difficult,” she explains.
This mass exodus, Melina explains, is not only detrimental to women’s careers but also to the industry which is losing researchers with years of experience and a valuable knowledge base.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, approximately 50% of applicants for early career research fellowships are women. However, this declines dramatically to less than 10% of applicants for senior research roles.
While she understood that this discrepancy must be addressed at a policy level, Melina also realised that efforts were needed to support, promote and inspire women at a grassroots level. And that’s exactly where Franklin Women comes in.
“I wanted to provide an avenue for women working in Health and Medical Research to network and to provide opportunities and support for each other,” she explains.
Franklin Women currently holds networking events in Sydney and Newcastle with an average of 100 participants attending each event.
But that’s not all Franklin Women has to offer. Two years after the launch of Franklin Women, Melina decided that they needed a program to help individual women discover opportunities which would help them progress to leadership roles. To meet this need, the Franklin Women’s Mentoring Program was developed. Since its launch in 2017, 18 organisations from across the health and medical research sector, including South West Sydney Research (SWSR) and Ingham Institute, have taken part in the program. And it’s not just about women. Male mentors play a significant role in the mentorship program, providing valuable guidance to their mentees.
(Keep an eye out over the new few weeks for parts 2-4 of our Franklin Women’s series where we’ll showcase the mentors and mentees from South West Sydney who’ve taken part in the Mentorship program since its inception.)
For more information on Franklin Women go to: https://franklinwomen.com.au/