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Wellington welcomes women in science

Wellington welcomes women in science

Around 150 women in science will be gathering in Wellington this week to share war stories and inspiration, including fourteen school students from across the country.

The eighth triennial Association for Women in the Sciences brings together women and girls from across the New Zealand sciences to share ideas and learn from each other.

“The networks built at AWIS conferences are incredibly important, whether for a short time or a lifetime,” says Esther Haines, AWIS National Convenor. “Whilst most women attending the conference have very different scientific backgrounds, many have similar issues during their career, such as choices around family or working in a male-dominated environment, particularly at higher levels of the science system. AWIS’ activities, and most especially the conference, give women a chance to learn from each other and share thoughts, problems and successes in a positive environment.”

Highlights from the 2014 conference include presentations of scientific research related to specific issues facing women in science, such as how research rankings may be biased towards men, and the differences between male and female behaviour and thinking. Sessions will also include career case studies from some of New Zealand’s foremost women in science – including Massey University’s Professor Brigid Heywood, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Professor Susanne Rasmussen, Professor in Grasslands Technology.

On the second day of the conference, a panel of three political women - Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister of Women’s Affairs; Moana Mackey, Labour Party’s spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Change; and Eugenie Sage, Green Party spokesperson for conservation, environment, conservation, local government and Christchurch – will discuss the policy and personal decisions for women in science.

The official presentation of the inaugural Dame Miriam Dell Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring will also take place during the conference, to Dr Judith O’Brien from the University of Auckland. The award is named for the AWIS Patron, who celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year.

This year, a group of fourteen secondary school students will be taking part in the conference, thanks to sponsorship from the Faculty of Engineering at Waikato University and the MacDiarmid Institute. These students will be hosted by a group of students from and sponsored by the School of Chemical & Physical Sciences at Victoria University Wellington.

Other sponsors of the conference include conference sponsors the faculty of Science at VUW and the Cawthron Institute, as well as the Allan Wilson Centre, Catalyst IT, NIWA, Division of Science at Unviersity of Otago, Royal Society of New Zealand, MetService, Plant & Food Research and WelTec.

More information about the conference, including the programme, is available at For those who wish to attend but are not yet registered, registration is available from the Registration Desk.


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