Gender equity in STEM

Are you interested in gender equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? Do you like the idea of research with real world, practical applications?

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This project is open for PhD students
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Dr Merryn McKinnon
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Are you interested in gender equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? Do you like the idea of research with real world, practical applications?  

Attracting, retaining and progressing girls and women in studies and careers has become a prominent topic and area of activity. The adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is consistently used to highlight the importance and influence of role models. But do role models actually have the impact we think?

Understanding whether role model initiatives are effective, and why, is crucial to making any significant progress in increasing the participation of women in STEM studies and careers. This project aims to explore why women choose to become role models and what happens to them - and the communities they are meant to influence – when they do.

We are seeking two PhD applicants to contribute to this inter-disciplinary, mixed method longitudinal study, based within the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at the Australian National University (ANU).

The two successful candidates will work closely with the ANU faculty in CPAS and the School of Sociology and other relevant stakeholders in government, industry and the community sectors. The two linked projects will provide candidates with exposure to cutting edge quantitative and qualitative research methods, internship and national networking opportunities. You will develop your research capabilities through the exploration of a highly contested policy space and acquire skills in using evidence to determine impact and inform the design of future policies and programs. You will hone your communication skills and create new ways to talk about impact.

While the empirical focus of the research is defined by the scope of the overall project, successful applicants will be encouraged to connect this work with their own ideas and research interests for developing their thesis topic.

Project 1: The personal, professional and societal impacts of women only prizes

This project will involve a longitudinal study of the impact of the Queensland Women in STEM Prize, interviewing current and previous winners to explore the impact the award has had on their professional practice. Where appropriate, interviews will also be conducted with members of communities who have interacted with the prize winner to explore benefits, impacts and perceptions which may have arisen because of this interaction. 

Project 2: The impact and influence of databases to promote women in STEM

This project will use the Academy of Science managed STEM Women database, to develop an understanding of how such databases develop from the outset. This research will specifically examine motivations of users, and the impact of the database in facilitating public engagement and collaboration opportunities.


Successful candidates must obtain admission to a relevant HDR Program in the College of Science and secure an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) PhD Scholarship or similar ANU PhD scholarship of $28,092 AUD tax free (2020 rate for 3 years). First class Honours (or equivalent academic qualifications) is a prerequisite for appointment.

Upon confirmation of the scholarship, an $8,000 per annum top-up scholarship (for 3 years) will be awarded.

Further information regarding eligibility for admission to a PhD program can be found on the ANUs website:

How to apply

Interested individuals are invited to submit an expression of interest to Dr Merryn McKinnon (merryn.; 02 6125 4951) by October 3 2019 stating their interests and ideas in one of the projects listed above, academic transcript(s) and their CV.

These projects are open to applications from domestic Australian and New Zealand candidates.



Associate Professor
Associate Dean of Education (College of Science)