11 February 2020
Every day researchers are working towards new breakthroughs in cancer, but have you ever stopped to think how many are female?
Statistics show that less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women, and International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11 is here to help change that.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science is focused on improving gender equality within the field and empower women and girls everywhere. A cause close to Cancer Council SA Researcher Dr Julia Morris’ heart.
Dr Morris is part of Cancer Council SA’s in-house Behavioural Research team which conducts monitoring, applied research and evaluation to inform the development of our cancer control programs and services.
To celebrate and shed a light on women in research and International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we invited Dr Morris to join us for a very special Q&A about her, her work and her thoughts about being among the minority in her field:
Q: How long have you been working at Cancer Council SA as a researcher?
A: I’ve worked in Cancer Council SA’s Behavioural Research Education Unit since July 2018.
Q: Briefly, what does your role entail?
A: In my role as a Researcher, I conduct research and evaluation focused on cancer prevention, detection and support. This involves evaluating support services and programs offered by Cancer Council SA, as well as identifying and leading original research projects.
Q: How did you get into science and research?
A: I started my study with an undergraduate degree in Psychological Science because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and it seemed interesting enough. Luckily, I enjoyed it and in particular the research component, which led me to study Public Health. This experience, alongside employment opportunities, propelled me to do my PhD in Psychology.
Q: Have you always had a passion for science?
A: Not consciously, but my mum is a scientist so perhaps she sowed the research seed!
Q: Do you have a special reason to do what you do?
A: Working at Cancer Council means that there’s significant translational capacity to the work we do. I think that potentially being able to help people is amazing.
Q: What is the best thing about your current research role?
A: I work in a great team where everyone gets along and supports one another. Also, overseeing research projects is interesting because you can explore different topic areas.
Q: How do you feel about the fact that less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women?
A: Not great if I’m honest! Women should be better represented overall and at the top of this area.
Q: Would you encourage other girls and women to seek out a career in science?
A: Yes, of course. In research you are constantly learning and challenged in different ways. Plus, you will be surrounded by like-minds which means your strange or antisocial behaviours are often excused because you’re in research—it’s fabulous.
Q: If there are any girls or women reading this who are thinking about a career in science and researcher, what would your advice be to them?
A: Give it a go. Your career will be much more enjoyable if you’re doing something you’re interested in. Girls and women know that they should be encouraged and feel supported to pursue their career interests and not be fearful of entering a male dominated space.
To find out more about the incredible work of other women in research working every day with your support to bring a cancer free future closer, visit https://www.cancersa.org.au/research/beat-cancer-project