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Co-Chairs Message

Hello everyone and welcome to our Spring quarterly newsletter. This year continues to feel like it’s flying by and we are bracing for yet another round of changes here at UNSW, including our return to campus. I encourage you all to touch base with your colleagues and support them as best as you can. Please use our Teams page to chat and find more information about resources and links available to us. As you will see in our newsletter, your WiRN Executive have been busy. We are excited to officially launch our new website as part of our transition to the EDI portfolio!  You will also find a summary of the WiRN Pulse survey conducted to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted you. WiRN members make up a diverse and vital part of the University. A recurring theme was the desire for workplaces to be more flexible into the future, whether this was to reduce commute times, increase family time, or increase the ability to have time for oneself. This summary has also been passed on to various members of the UNSW Management Board and EDI team. Thank you to all the members that participated. We’ve taken on board the suggestions on how WiRN can support you and are developing some upcoming seminars (Stay tuned!).
Wishing you call the best,
Co-chair, WiRN 2020

WiRN working at home survey

UNSW Women in Research Network members were invited to complete a short survey about their experience working from home since 1 March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results showed that:
  • Many respondents spent more time in teaching and administrative work and less time in research between March and June 2020 compared to the same period last year. Emotional wellbeing was ranked at four or less (on a zero to ten scale) by 60% of respondents.
  • Most respondents would like to see the maintained trust in working flexibly or from home arrangements and a change in perception that “face to face” is the first/best option for all meetings. It is important also to have the option to return to campus for those who cannot work from home.
  • More than half of respondents feel as engaged (41%) or more engaged (11%) with their work. On the other hand, one in three feel they are losing contact with their networks.
  • Many respondents saw opportunities to change the way we work, new arrangements across faculties, across research and teaching. However, there were many negative feelings related to the future and many respondents could not see opportunities emerging post-COVID.
You can find a full summary here on our EDI website under the Resources tab.

Welcome to our new HDR representatives

This year we have welcomed two new HDR representatives Samantha Miles and Diana Kreemers. As a way of introduction, we have asked to share about themselves and what motivated them to join the WiRN executive committee.

Samantha Miles

I majored in chemistry and pharmacology in my Bachelor of Advanced Science at UNSW and went on to do my honours in molecular pharmacology, also at UNSW. During my undergraduate studies I worked at an all girls high school both in the science department and boarding department, providing pastoral care, while I also worked as a private tutor and demonstrator here at UNSW. This experience has taught me more about how the role and perception of women in education by other staff and their students can vary. My research and teaching at UNSW has seen me work in the Faculty of Science, in biology related areas (such as the genetics lab where I was a research assistant) and the School of Chemistry (where I am now doing my PhD), as well as the School of Medical Sciences. This has allowed me to compare female representations at the student and staff level while also noting how attitudes of women and men differ across these areas of UNSW. I hope that this diverse experience in a range of disciplines and roles, as well as my now 6 year experience at UNSW, offers a new and helpful perspective to the WiRN team. My PhD is now focused on medicinal chemistry and involves selectively incorporating fluorine into amino acids before observing how this alters the activity and function of peptides that contain these modified amino acids. Since beginning this work in late 2019, I have also been awarded a teaching fellowship in the School of Chemistry which enables me to contribute to the educational work at UNSW throughout my PhD.

My first experience with WiRN was a faculty outreach event and I was so inspired by the great initiatives being taken by this group that I was eager to get involved. I feel very lucky to have earned my education in an environment where women are welcome in STEM and have access to many more career opportunities than those that came before, largely due to women like those that make up this network. I am eager to contribute to this same cause through my time in WiRN and more widely as a female researcher in a STEM focused career. Over my brief time in research and science,  I've found how critical the balance between work and free time is, personally struggling to maintain a healthy work life balance with my partner, family and exercise whilst facing due dates  and imposter syndrome. This is something I would like to address as I think we can work further to destigmatise this prioritisation of personal well-being and balance, especially in female HDRs and ECRs. As a HDR, I've felt how this can translate into longer term pressure to prioritise career opportunities over relationships or familial connections in order to thrive in the ultra-competitive academic environment. This is an issue I personally feel very strongly about and an area that I would like to help build support for. These early years are a time of great personal and professional change in many HDR and ECRs' lives and it is my hope that, through working with WiRN, we can do more to ensure that UNSW is providing the resources and support to help women pursue their chosen career path without being penalised for their personal choices.

I am very excited to now be a part of the executive committee as the STEM HDR representative and to begin working towards these goals. It is a privilege to be a part of this group and to contribute to this worth cause. I look forward to meeting more of its members and working together to foster an equitable and inclusive environment for women in research.

Diana Kreemers

HDR Representative for the Faculty of Arts and Design, Faculty of Built Environment, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Faculty of Law.
I am a PhD Candidate in the School of Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. My research interests include representation, recognition, mediatization, and listening as the counterpart of political voice. I have over eight years of experience working with policymakers, bureaucrats, journalists and media users. I worked on research projects on community media to develop new professional practices. More recently I investigated listening practices in political context in a two-year participatory research project at the Dutch government.

My current research analyses the politics of listening necessary to support the democratic potential of mediated refugee voices. I have just started the third year of my project “Institutional listening to minority voices: representation, recognition and refugee media”, for which I investigate the listening practices of professionals in democratic institutions. The concept of political listening stems from feminist scholarship: the focus on listening seeks alternatives to the challenges of speaking up and dominant voices in decision making processes.

By joining the WiRN Committee I aim to contribute to overcoming the under-representation of women in leadership positions and to broadening career opportunities for female HDR’s. This ‘unprecedented’ year makes an interesting time to join the committee. Working from home, new dynamics around online teaching and casual work, disruptions in HDR supervision, and the implementation of a new faculty that brings together three of the Faculties I represent, ask for extra attention to the position of women at UNSW and in academic research more broadly.

I look forward to meeting you all soon at one of WiRN’s future events. Feel free to email me on I am always happy to have a chat about our experiences as women working in academia.

Upcoming WiRN/ECAN Event


Opportunities Outside Academia

Building on the recent event series coordinated by the Early Career Academic Network (ECAN) focusing on the tools required to transition out of an academic career, WiRN is organising a panel event for later this year where female speakers that made this transition will share their experiences. Through this event, we aim to present a range of diverse career paths for PhD graduates and ECRs and share a female perspective on these journeys. We hope this event will inform members about other opportunities beyond academia, reference useful resources available for these transitions and highlight how current HDRs and ECRs can steer their careers in this direction. Speakers have not yet been chosen but we are aiming to have a balance between STEMM and ASSH focused disciplines as well as a range of sectors. We welcome any suggestions for speakers that you would enjoy hearing from on this topic or career transitions you would like to learn more about, please send any suggestions to Please stay tuned for further details and remember to join our UNSW Teams page for regular updates and future events.

Previous WiRN Event


Shadow CV

On Aug 18, 2020, Women in Research Network in collaboration with Gender Champions at UNSW hosted an online event “Shadow CVs: A Guide to Dealing with Setbacks and Building Resilience”. The goal of this event was to have a more open dialogue about rejection and failure in a course of one’s career, and share how successful individuals have overcome and embraced them for building resilience. 

The concept of Shadow CVs was discussed, which refers to the practice of keeping visible records of failures, near-misses, non-selections, participation medals, and rejection letters in addition to successes that decorate a resumé. The discussion of Shadow CVs was an acknowledgment and explanation of why rejection and failure are a normal part of one’s career and not something to hide or be embarrassed about. Shadow CVs are an attempt to balance the record and provide more realistic perspectives on the life of an academic.

In this context, we discussed shadow CVs of successful academics, including Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, who shared her journey to becoming a well-recognized inventor, including untold stories of dealing with criticism and rejections before success was realized. Acknowledging that organizations have a critical role in creating an accepting culture to setbacks, we then heard from Professor Gavin Shwartz, who discussed a possible reframing of setbacks and failures such that organizations actively accept and normalize failures as an integral part of the process, focusing on opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow. Lastly, to cope with setbacks at the personal level, we heard from Dr. Justine Gatt. Dr. Gatt shared her research on decoding resilience and mental wellbeing in the brain, which further help us build resilience in people in different contexts. Using the COMPAS-W Framework, she described pillars of composure, own-worth, mastery, positivity, achievement, and satisfaction as a guide for building resilience at a personal level.

The recording of the event including the Q&A can be found here.

Upcoming Webinars and Workshops


Gender Equity and COVID-19

The SAGE team at Western Sydney University are hosting an online Gender UNLIMITED* event titled "Gender Equity and COVID-19". It will feature a keynote interview with the Director of their new Diversity and Human Rights Research Centre, Professor Kerry Robinson, on "Gender Equity and COVID-19: Priorities for Recovery", a panel discussion on "Equity in/and Crisis Response", and mini-presentations from their 2019 VC Gender Equality Fund researchers. It will be chaired by their DVC Research and Innovation Professor Deborah Sweeney.

This event promises to be a substantial and productive conversation around gender equity, intersectionality, and strategic equity efforts in the context of crisis. The event will take place on Zoom from 10am to 1pm, Tuesday 20th October 2020 and you are welcome to join for all or part of the event. Further details including the programme and registration is available at this link.

Women in Research Webinars

Women in Research are running a series of “Small Wins” webinars. Upcoming webinars are
  • Managing Home-Work Challenges Wednesday 4th November - more details and RSVP here.
  • Being Resilient Wednesday 2nd December – more details and RSVP here

Have you ever considered joining a book club?

The STEMMinist Book Club is primarily an online book club that discusses books about feminism & gender equity in STEMM. Every two months we pick a new book to read and discuss. There is an online discussion (on twitter) as well as face-to-face meet-ups all over the world, including here in Sydney.
We now have close to 4000 members from over 30 countries, and are open to everyone working in, or with an interest in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths & medicine) that considers themselves a feminist. Members can dip and out depending on their availability and interest in the current book. The easiest way to get involved is to follow @stemminist on twitter or Goodreads. All welcome!
September/October STEMMinist Book Club pick is the inspirational and practical “Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons” by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julie Gillard.
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