Theme Fellows in the Australian Learned Academies, 1954-2010
Written by Patricia Grimshaw and Rosemary Francis, The University of Melbourne
At the time of the formation of the learned academies in post-war Australia, there were few women in the ranks of researchers in the academic professions, from which academicians were drawn. Women academics were appreciated rather more as teachers and course organisers than as intensive research scholars, whereas election to a learned academy was an indication of peer recognition for outstanding scholarship. By the end of the century, the greatly increased number of women was an indicator that they could now promote the research base of their disciplines in innovative and internationally significant directions. Their movement into the academies, however, was slow until the 1990s; they have yet to match the proportion of men at senior research levels in universities and research institutes.
This entry traces women's election to the learned academies across sixty years. We begin with the first remarkable female academicians who were born in the years before or during the First World War. Second, we sketch the career paths of researchers elected by 1976 who were born in the interwar years. In contrast to the previous group, these scholars experienced research training and first academic employment at a time when gender constraints were beginning to lessen. Third, we describe the marked increase in women academicians from the late 1970s under the impact of affirmative action policies in the tertiary sector. We conclude with attention to the women who, since the mid-1990s, have risen to leadership of the academies themselves.
Early Female Academicians
Fifteen women born between 1889 and 1933 were elected fellows of the learned academies in the years that spanned the foundation of the first and the fourth, from 1954 to 1976. Three of Australia's learned academies had emerged from committees of leading academics who were involved during World War II and the immediate post-war years in planning for post-war reconstruction. The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) was founded in 1954 by Australian Fellows of the Royal Society of London, with Sir Mark Oliphant as its founding president. Prominent academics in the humanities and social sciences set up separate councils, the Humanities Research Council and the Social Sciences Research Council, which were converted into the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) in 1969 and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) in 1971. A fourth learned academy, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences (ATS), was established in 1976, when applied scientists felt the need for a distinctive academy; the ATS eventually incorporated engineers and adopted the acronym ATSE. The means by which fellows were elected differed slightly between the academies, but, basic to all academies, was the nomination of a candidate by several fellows, an initial assessment from the appropriate disciplinary section through a secret ballot and, if there was sufficient approval, the confirmation of a candidate through a vote of the entire membership.
Few female scholars before 1976 attained the degree of prominence in research that would elicit the attention of the male academicians in whose hands election for the most part lay. A small minority of women sustained high-level research that usually relied on academic employment but women were scarce in long-term university lectureships. Despite an apparently uncongenial academic culture, however, the research achievements of a few remarkable and aspirational women were sufficient to mark them as exceptional.
The first three female fellows of an Australian learned academy were outstanding scholars, one Australia-born and two of German origin, all three with advanced tertiary degrees from Britain. The geologist, Dorothy Hill (Morrell, 'Hill', AWR; McCarthy, 'Hill', EOAS; Campbell & Jell), elected at the age of forty-nine to the AAS in 1956, was born in Brisbane in 1907, and undertook a science degree at the University of Queensland where she graduated in 1928 with first class honours in geology. She then proceeded on a scholarship to Cambridge University, where she completed a doctorate and, following short-term fellowships, was then appointed to a lectureship at her home university in 1946. By 1959, she had risen to research professor in geology. Her research focused on the study of corals. She died in 1997. The mathematician, Hanna Neumann (Fowler, ADB; Morrell & Francis, AWR; McCarthy, 'Neumann', EOAS; Newman & Wall), elected in 1969 to the AAS, was a specialist in group theory. Born in Berlin in 1914, she graduated from the University of Berlin with distinction in 1936 and joined her Jewish fiancé, Bernhard Neumann, in England. She enrolled as an external student at Oxford University and graduated Dphil in 1944; she was awarded a DSc from Oxford in 1955. From 1962, she taught at the Australian National University, where she was promoted to a professorship in pure mathematics, the first woman professor in the university. She died of a brain aneurism in 1971, two years after her election (Grimshaw & Francis, 229, 236). Ursula Hoff (Francis, 'Hoff', AWR) had already served on the Humanities Research Council when she became a fellow of the AAH in 1969, widely esteemed for her studies of European and Australian art. She graduated from Hamburg University in English literature and art history, relocated with her family to London in 1933 and completed a doctoral thesis on Rembrandt from Hamburg University in 1935. She shifted to Melbourne in 1939, where she became keeper of prints and drawings in the National Gallery of Victoria and lecturer in art history at the University of Melbourne. Hoff enjoyed a long and distinguished career till her death in 2005 (Grimshaw & Francis, 231-2; Anderson, J.).
Unlike Hoff, the first group of fellows in the AAH, historians Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Marnie Bassett and literary critic and poet Judith Wright, enjoyed peer respect for their research-based publications rather than doctorates: indeed, Bassett and Wright had no formal university qualifications. Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Patrick, ADB; Heywood, 'Fitzpatrick', AWR) was sixty-four years of age when she became a foundation member of the AAH and was already retired from the History Department at the University of Melbourne. Fitzpatrick was born in rural Victoria in 1905, completed a BA Hons degree at the University of Melbourne in 1926 and, two years later, a second BA at Oxford University. She was appointed to a lectureship in history at the University of Melbourne in 1939 and reached the level of associate professor in 1948. By the time of her admission to the AAH in 1969, Fitzpatrick's publications included biographies of Sir John Franklin and Martin Boyd and a study of Australian explorers. She died in 1990 (Grimshaw & Francis, 231). Marnie Bassett (Blainey, ADB) was eighty years of age at her admission to the AAH in 1969. Born in Melbourne in 1889, she audited lectures at the University of Melbourne where Professor Ernest Scott fostered her early research and, in later years, she gave occasional lectures and seminars in the history department. From 1940, after years engaged in domestic duties, she published books, such as The Hentys (1954), that became classics of Australian history. She died in 1980 (Grimshaw & Francis, 230-1; Fitzpatrick). Judith Wright McKinney (Heywood, 'Wright', AWR), born in 1915 in rural NSW, began an arts degree at the University of Sydney but did not graduate. By 1969, when she was elected a fellow, her critical literary writing was widely admired and she taught intermittently at the University of Sydney; she also wrote on Australian history-The Generations of Men was published in 1959-but it was as a poet that she became best known, a reputation enhanced by a substantial output over many decades from the 1950s until her death in 2000 (Grimshaw & Francis, 232; Brady).
One other early fellow had an undergraduate university degree that was unrelated to the disciplinary area of her subsequent research discoveries, and did not study for a doctorate. Helen Newton Turner, sixty-eight years old and retired when she was elected to ATS in 1976, was an internationally recognised world expert on sheep genetics whose work had a substantial impact on merino sheep breeding. Born in Sydney in 1908, she graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Sydney but found work as a secretary to Dr Ian Clunies Ross in the division of animal health in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), predecessor of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Intrigued by the data she was typing for others, Turner returned to university part time to study mathematics and statistics and rose eventually to the post of senior research scientist in the Division of Animal Genetics, leading the team working on sheep genetics from 1956 to 1973. She graduated with a doctorate of science from the University of Sydney in 1970, and, in retirement, worked with researchers in developing countries to improve local animal health and fertility (Grimshaw & Francis, 235-6; McCarthy, 'Turner', EOAS). She died in 1995.
Changing Opportunities for Women in Research
In post-war Australia, as marriage bars to tenured employment disappeared and marriage and motherhood became less of a liability to women in gaining academic positions and seeking promotion to senior levels, the pace of women's entry into tertiary research quickened. Educational opportunities for women expanded considerably at the same time with the establishment of new tertiary institutions. As the proportion of women students rose, more women opted for research higher degrees, including the PhD, which was emerging as essential for securing a university lectureship from the 1960s. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 outlawed discrimination on the basis of sex in employment and the Affirmative Action Act of 1986 made the reporting of statistics on women in the profession mandatory. Universities immediately established units to monitor women's employment and establish targets (not quotas) for the recruitment and promotion of women to the higher levels of the academic hierarchy. With the pool of potential female researchers and hence of future academicians steadily enlarging, there was an increased flow of women into the academies.
The careers of a group of early fellows born in the interwar years and elected by 1976 presaged progressive changes in women's tertiary employment opportunities that would become more apparent with each decade. A brief look at the careers of these women indicates an increasing capacity of some at least to chart soundly based pathways to academic careers. All eight women in this group completed doctorates, most giving priority to qualifications gained from overseas universities; just one of them graduated from an Australian university, but she had research experience in two northern countries. Most lived to healthy and active senior years, as was also true of the first group discussed.
Two of this second group of fellows graduated from Oxford University, one from the University of London and another from the Sorbonne. Physiologist Mollie Holman was aged forty in 1970 when she became the third woman elected to the AAS. Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Melbourne, after which she completed her doctorate at Oxford. She was an outstanding scientist, who was employed for several decades, first at the University of Melbourne, then at Monash University where she was appointed to a personal chair in physiology in 1970. She died in 2010 (Walker, 'Holman', EOAS). In 1974, Leonie Kramer (Francis, 'Kramer', AWR), a specialist in Australian literature, was elected to the AAH. Born in 1924, she completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne and then undertook a PhD at Oxford University, returning to a lectureship at the University of New South Wales. In 1968, she became a professor at the University of Sydney, the first female professor of, English in Australia, and also served a period as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1982-1983. Kramer's productive and influential career at Sydney University included a lengthy period as chancellor of the university (1991-2001), a position from which she eventually resigned in controversial circumstances. The food scientist, June Olley, was fifty-two years old when she became an inaugural fellow in ATS. Born in London in 1924, she completed a PhD in the chemistry of nutrition from the University of London, and, after many years working in Scotland, eventually gained work in the CSIRO in Tasmania where she specialised in the preservation of fish and shellfish (Allen; Grimshaw & Francis, 236). Born in Ararat in 1921, Norma McArthur, the demographer of the Pacific islands, similarly undertook a PhD at the University of London. An inaugural fellow in the ASSA in 1971, her extensive original research was ground-breaking and continues to be widely esteemed. Her book, Island Populations of the Pacific (1967) became a classic. She died in 1984 (Grimshaw & Francis, 233; Obituaries Australia). The remarkably talented, Canberra-born (1933) French language expert, Judith Robinson-Valery (Meyering, AWR), undertook her doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris following her first degree at the University of Sydney. Her thesis was published in 1958, while she held a research fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge. A professor at the University of NSW, she was elected to the AAH in 1972 at the age of thirty-nine for distinguished work in French literature. In 1974, she resigned from UNSW to live and work in Paris, returning to Sydney in 2001 when her health began to fail. She died in 2010 (Pickering).
Others of this group undertook research in the United States, previously a less usual choice though it would grow more common in following years. Born in Melbourne in 1923, the sociologist, Jean Martin (Richmond, ADB), was elected to the ASSA in its first year, 1971. Following her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney, she undertook some years of research at the London School of Economics and at the University of Chicago before completing a PhD at the ANU. Renowned for her work on immigration experience and policy, Martin became the inaugural professor of sociology at La Trobe University in 1965; she died in 1979. The constitutional lawyer, Enid Campbell (Heywood, 'Campbell', AWR), elected in 1972 at forty years of age to the ASSA, completed a PhD at Duke University in North Carolina before taking up an appointment at Monash University, where she became the first female dean of a law faculty in Australia. She died in 2010. Psychologist Jacqueline Goodnow was elected to the ASSA in 1976. Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, she undertook her first degree at the University of Sydney followed by a PhD from Harvard; she was appointed a professor at Macquarie University in 1976 and was particularly noted for her innovative research on the social development of families, communities and cultures over their lifespan (Grimshaw & Francis, 234-5).
Increasing Numbers of Women in the Science Academies to 2000
In 1976, the total membership of the AAS after twenty-two years of operation stood at 194, only two of whom were women. No further women were admitted to the AAS in the 1970s after the election of Mollie Holman. In the 1980s, just three more women were admitted: palynologist Elizabeth Truswell in 1985, molecular geneticist Suzanne Cory (see below) in 1986 and biologist Jan Anderson in 1987. Truswell (Walker, 'Truswell', EOAS) was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in 1941 and educated at the University of Western Australia where she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in 1962. She proceeded to a PhD at Cambridge University, which she completed in 1966. She was elected to the AAS in 1985 when she held the position of research scientist in palynology at the Bureau of Mineral Resources. She later became the chief research scientist in palynology and then chief research scientist at the Australian Geological Survey Organisation. Jan Anderson (Alafaci, 'Anderson', EOAS) was born in 1932 in New Zealand where she undertook her initial tertiary education before completing a PhD in organic chemistry at the University of California. In 1982, she became chief research scientist at the CSIRO. Later, in 1996, she was elected fellow of the Royal Society (ANU Research School of Biology website). After the AAS's slow beginning in identifying talented women in science, the number of women elected fellows of the AAS tripled in the 1990s with nine women admitted; in the first decade of the 2000s, a further twenty women became fellows.
The total membership of ATS[E] in its first year of 1976 was sixty-four, including two women. After its initial appointments in the inaugural year, the academy elected the microbiologist, Nancy Millis, in 1977 (AUSTEHC, AWR). Millis was born in Melbourne in 1922 and completed her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne and the University of Bristol, where she undertook a PhD in the fermentation of cider and microorganisms that affect the process. At the time of her election to ATSE, she was working in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Melbourne, where she became professor in 1982. A leader in environmental management, she also chaired the Victorian Government's Water Strategy Committee. She served as chancellor of La Trobe University from 1992 to 2006 (McCarthy, 'Millis', EOAS; Morrison). In 2004, she was also elected to the AAS. She died in Melbourne in 2012.
Millis was followed in ATSE in the 1980s by the plant biologists, Elizabeth Dennis and Adrienne Clarke. Dennis (Walker, 'Dennis', EOAS) was born in Sydney in 1943 and was educated at Sydney University, completing a BSc (Hons) in 1964 and a PhD in 1968. When she was elected to ATSE in 1987 she held the position of chief research scientist at the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry. She was also elected a fellow of AAS in 1995. Clarke (Morrell, 'Clarke', AWR; Alafaci, 'Clarke', EOAS) was born in 1938 in Melbourne. She completed her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne where she held the position of professor of botany from 1985. A specialist in plant genetics, she was elected to ATSE in 1988 and to the AAS in 1991. She became a highly and widely respected botanist both nationally and internationally.
Increasing Numbers of Women in the AAH and the ASSA to 2000
The increase in the number of women in the AAH and the ASSA was far more apparent than in the science academies, in part a reflection of a continuing gender division in preferred fields of study that has prevailed in secondary schools and universities. In 1976, there were 112 fellows of the AAH, only five of whom were women. Following Leonie Kramer's election in 1974, the AAH admitted linguist Luise Hercus in 1978 and archaeologist Isabel McBryde in 1979.
Luise Hercus was born in Munich, Germany, in 1926. Leaving Germany in 1939, she was educated in England, graduating with an MA from Oxford University. After migrating to Australia, she completed a PhD at the Australian National University. When she was elected to the AAH in 1978, she was reader in Sanskrit at the ANU. Her research has included salvage work in Aboriginal languages and studying languages on the brink of extinction (ANU E Press). Isabel McBryde was born in 1934 in Fremantle, Perth. She undertook her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne, Cambridge University and the University of New England, where she completed a PhD in 1966. When she was elected to the AAH, she was working as a senior lecturer in the Department of Pre-history and Anthropology at the ANU, where she has continued outstanding work over several decades, combining the fields of archaeology, ethnohistory, historical archaeology and cultural heritage. She held the chair in prehistory from 1986 to 1994 (ANU IPPHA website).
The 1980s saw the election of a further nine women to fellowships in the AAH. Five were from the arts, art history and history: Virginia Spate, Margaret Manion, Ann Galbally, Margaret Plant and Dale Kent. Virginia Spate was born in 1937 and completed her tertiary education, BA (Hons) in 1959 and MA in 1962, at the University of Melbourne. She followed on with a Masters degree and PhD at Bryn Mawr College, Cambridge, in 1970. She held the position of professor of fine arts at Sydney University when she was elected to AAH in 1981. Her research interests included nature, the body and the natural sciences in 19th-century French art; the Aboriginal Memorial, Canberra; the representation of the body in 18th- and 19th-century French art; and Australian landscape painting. Margaret Manion (Land, AWR) was born in 1935 in Nowra in NSW and was educated at the Loreto Convent, Normanhurst; she later became a Loreto Sister. She completed a BA at the University of Melbourne and a PhD in the United States at Bryn Mawr College. When she was elected to the AAH in 1986, she was Harold professor of fine arts at the University of Melbourne, a leader then and now in Medieval and Renaissance art, particularly the art of the illuminated manuscript.
Margaret Manion's colleague, Ann Galbally, was born in Melbourne in 1945 and completed her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne, both BA and PhD. She was elected to the AAH in 1989 when she was associate professor of art history at her alma mater. Her research interests included public patronage of the arts in colonial Australia; the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria; the life of Redmond Barry; and the works of Charles Conder (AAH website). Margaret Plant, who was born in 1940, also completed her tertiary education with a BA and PhD at the University of Melbourne. She was professor of art history at Monash University on her election to the AAH in 1985. Her research included the history of Venice from 1797 until the 20th century. Dale Kent, born in 1942, completed her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne with a BA in 1965, and at the University of London where she earned a PhD in 1971. She taught at La Trobe University and subsequently became professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. She was elected to the AAH in 1984 as a highly regarded researcher on the Italian Renaissance.
The four other fellows elected in the 1980s were Margaret Kartomi in Asian studies, Sylvia Hallam and Betty Meehan in archaeology, and Anna Wierzbicka in linguistics. Margaret Kartomi was born in 1941 and undertook BA and Bmus degrees at Adelaide University, graduating in 1962 and 1964 respectively, and a PhD at Humboldt University, Berlin, completed in 1968. She was reader in music at Monash University when she was elected to the AAH in 1982. Her research interests included the music cultures of Sumatra (and Southeast Asia generally) (AAH website). Sylvia Hallam was born in the United Kingdom in 1927 in Kettering, Northamptonshire. A pioneer in Australian archaeology, she completed her tertiary education at Murdoch University, Western Australia, and a Bdiv and MA at Cambridge University. She was elected to the AAH in 1984 when she was associate professor of prehistoric archaeology at the University of Western Australia. One of her major landscape studies focused on the effects of Aboriginal burns on Australian landscapes. Betty Meehan was born in Bourke, NSW, in 1933. She gained her BA and MA from Sydney University, and her PhD from the ANU. She was elected to the AAH in 1987 when she worked in the Australian Museum in Sydney as senior research scientist and head of division of anthropology. The fourth fellow in this 1980s group was Anna Wierzbicka, who was born in Poland in 1938. She undertook undergraduate studies at the University of Warsaw, and graduated PhD from the Polish Academy of Sciences. She held a position as a linguist at the ANU when she was elected to the AAH in 1988; subsequently, in 1996, she was also elected to the ASSA. A professor in linguistics at the ANU, she has long been a leader in semantics, pragmatics and cross-cultural linguistics (ANU School of Language Studies website).
The rate of increase in the number of women fellows after 1976 was even more marked in the ASSA. In 1976, there were 150 ASSA fellows, a number that included only four women. The Academy then elected the anthropologist, Marie Reay, in 1977 and the geographer, Fay Gale, in 1979. Gale's details are considered below as one of the first women to become president of an academy. Marie Reay was born in 1922. She graduated MA from Sydney University, and PhD in 1977 from the ANU, the same year she was elected to the ASSA. From the mid-1940s she was a pioneer in the study of conditions among Aborigines in northern NSW but was perhaps best known for her research in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. She was a senior fellow at the ANU in the Department of Anthropology. She died in 2004 (Young).
In the 1980s, nine further women were elected: political scientist Carole Pateman; historian Pat Jalland; economist Helen Hughes; Beverley Raphael in social medicine; lawyers Marcia Neave and Alice Tay; and three sociologists, Eva Etzioni-Halevy, Bettina Cass and Jane Marceau.
Carol Pateman was born in Sussex, United Kingdom in 1940. She graduated with a Dip EcPolSci, MA and Dphil from Oxford University and, in Australia, received an Honorary Dlitt from the ANU. With Marian Sawer, she co-founded the Women's Caucus of the Australasian Political Studies Association in 1979. Specialising in modern political theory, she was elected to the ASSA in 1980. She subsequently left Australia to take up a position as professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles (ASSA website). Pat Jalland was born in the United Kingdom; she completed a BA at Bristol University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of London. She proceeded to study in Canada, completing a PhD at the University of Toronto. Her leadership in historical research was in social, medical, cultural, women's and family history. She migrated to Australia and was associate professor in history at the Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, when elected to the ASSA in 1988. She also became a fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) and subsequently professor of history at the ANU (ASSA website).
Helen Hughes (Shapley, AWR) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1928, and migrated to Melbourne in 1939. She undertook tertiary education at the University of Melbourne graduating with a BA (Hons) in 1949 and MA (Hons) in 1951. Her PhD in 1954 was from the London School of Economics; La Trobe University later awarded her an Honorary LLD. She was appointed professor of economics at the ANU in 1982 and was director of the National Centre for Development Studies when she was elected a fellow of the ASSA in 1985. Her major interests were in economic policy as applied to the alleviation of poverty and economic development. She died in 2013. Beverley Raphael (McCarthy, 'Raphael', EOAS), born in 1934 in Casino, NSW, was a graduate of Sydney University with a MBBS and MD. She subsequently studied at the University of Newcastle where she received an MD (Hons); she worked as a general practitioner in the early 1960s. When she was elected to the ASSA in 1986, she was foundation professor of psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Newcastle. She subsequently became professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Queensland. Raphael has been a leading researcher in policy and program development for mental health prevention and child and adolescent mental health, as well as in the impact of trauma on mental health.
Alice Tay was born in Singapore in 1934. She moved to Australia at the age of twenty-seven and completed a PhD in Law at the ANU in 1965. A champion of human rights and opponent of all forms of discrimination, she was the Challis professor of jurisprudence at Sydney University from 1975 and was in that position when elected to the ASSA in 1986. From 1998 to 2003, she was president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. She died in 2004 (University of Sydney, News). Marcia Neave was born in Melbourne in 1944 and was educated at the University of Melbourne, graduating LLB in 1965. She achieved prominence when she headed an inquiry into prostitution for the Victorian government in 1984-1985 and was elected to the ASSA in 1989. In 1991, she was appointed to a personal chair in law at Monash University, and in 2000 took up the position of foundation chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeals Division, in 2006 (Melbourne Law School website).
Eva Etzioni-Halevy was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1935 and left with her family in 1939. She completed her tertiary education at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, graduating with a BA (1955) and MA (1969); she gained a PhD from Tel-Aviv University in 1971. She worked at the ANU from 1978 to 1989 and was elected to the ASSA in 1987 when she was reader in the Department of Sociology. Her focus was on political sociology, particularly elites, inequality and democracy. She returned to Israel to a professorship at Bar-Ilan University in 1989 (ASSA website). Bettina Cass was born in Waverley, NSW, in 1940 and completed her BA (Hons) and PhD at the University of New South Wales. She was elected to the ASSA in 1987, when she was an associate professor of sociology at the University of Sydney, in recognition for her leadership in the area of social policy (ASSA website). For example, from 1986 to 1989, she was director of the Commonwealth government's Social Security Review, Cass later served as dean of the Faculty of Arts at Sydney University (1996-2001) (TASA website). Jane Marceau undertook a BA at the London School of Economics and a PhD at Cambridge University. She was elected to the ASSA in 1989 for her research in innovation and technology with a focus on the urban environment. She was till her recent retirement pro-vice chancellor (research) at the University of Western Sydney; she continues to be a consultant and policy adviser to governments, community organisations and business (UNSW Built Environment website).
The Academies at the Turn of the Century
In the 1990s and the early 2000s the increase and proportionate inclusion of women as fellows of the AAH and ASSA accelerated. In the 1990s, thirty women were elected fellows of the AAH and forty-six were admitted to the ASSA. The AAH elected a further fifty women in the first decade of the 21st century and the ASSA a further seventy-two women. The figures for female fellows in the science academies by the year 2012 still contrasted quite strongly with the proportion of women fellows in the ASSA and the AAH. By the end of 2012, just over one-tenth of the AAS membership and just below one-tenth of the ATSE were women. By comparison, about one-fifth of the fellows in the AAH and one-quarter in the ASSA were women. There were 140 women out of 524 fellows (including honorary fellows) in the ASSA, and 94 female fellows out of 524 (including honorary fellows) in the AAH. In the AAS in 2012, there were thirty-five female fellows out of a total of just over four hundred including corresponding fellows; and just fifty-two out of a total of some eight hundred ATSE fellows were women.
In the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, several women academicians were elected to lead the academies. In most cases, these women had already held very senior positions in academic administration in tertiary institutions. The University of Sydney archaeologist, Professor Margaret Clunies Ross, served as president of the AAH from 1995 to 1998, and the historian and cultural studies scholar, Professor Lesley Johnson, was elected to the post at the end of 2011. Margaret Clunies Ross had been elected to the AAH in 1990 for outstanding expertise in Old and Middle English language and literature, and Old Norse (Old Icelandic) language and literature (AAH website). Born in Adelaide in 1942, she took her first degree from the University of Adelaide in English, and her doctorate was from Oxford University (Somerville College). She had served on the council of the AAH before taking up the presidency. She headed a research centre in her area at the University of Sydney. The second woman appointed as AAH president, Sydney-born Lesley Johnson (AAH website), was elected to the AAH in 1999 for her scholarly contribution to cultural studies, Australian history and gender studies. Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Sydney; she undertook a Masters of Education at the University of Queensland and a PhD at Monash University. Johnson became pro-vice chancellor (research) at the University of Technology, Sydney, in 1995, a position she held for nine years; from 2004 to 2009 she was deputy vice chancellor (research) at Griffith University. Johnson also served on various ARC committees and for three years was a member of its council. Historian Anna Haebich and literary critic Gillian Whitlock are currently vice presidents of the AAH, a position several other women have held in the past decade: historian Ros Pesman (2005-2006); specialist in French language Anne Freadman (2007); literary critic Elizabeth Webby (2007-2009); and linguist Kate Burridge (2007-2009).
The geographer, Fay Gale, held the presidency of the ASSA from 1997 to 2000 and was succeeded by the economist, Sue Richardson, for a term from 2003 to 2006. Fay Gale, the second woman to lead an academy and the first to lead the ASSA, was born in Adelaide in 1932, attended the University of Adelaide for her undergraduate and doctoral degrees. In 1979 she was elected fellow of the ASSA for outstanding research that included studies of urban Aborigines. Gale had a distinguished research career, combined with extensive senior administration. In 1978 she became the first woman professor at the University of Adelaide, where she was appointed pro-vice chancellor in 1988. She subsequently became vice chancellor of the University of Western Australia in 1990. She died in 2008 (Anderson, K.). Sue Richardson, born in Melbourne in 1946, undertook her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne and her doctorate at La Trobe University, becoming its first doctoral graduate. Her research has focused on the labour market and she served from 2000 to 2008 as director of the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University of South Australia where she is Matthew Flinders distinguished professor (Flinders University website; ASSA website). The incoming president of the ASSA in 2013, psychologist Professor Deborah Terry, is another academician who has combined a productive research engagement with senior administration: she is currently senior deputy vice chancellor of the University of Queensland (ASSA website).
The first female elected president of the AAS in 2010, Suzanne Cory (Morrell, 'Cory', AWR), was born in Melbourne in 1942, undertook her first degree at the University of Melbourne and completed her doctorate at Cambridge University where she worked in the laboratory of the Nobel Prize winner, Francis Crick. After postdoctoral research in Geneva, she returned to Melbourne in 1971 to work at the Walter and Eliza Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. She served as its director from 1996 to 2009. She was elected a fellow of the AAS in 1986 and, in 1992, became a fellow of the Royal Society of London (Walker, 'Cory', EOAS). A specialist in molecular oncology and biochemistry, she has participated in highly important international as well as national research forums and scholarly organisations. Her work as president of the AAS has included advocacy for girls and women in science.
Starting from a modest base, the ATSE slowly improved its inclusiveness in the next two decades. Seventeen women were elected in the 1990s and a further thirty-eight women in the first decade of the 21st century. The ATSE has yet to appoint a woman as president but Professor Mary O'Kane (Walker, 'O'Kane', EOAS), a computer engineer in speech recognition, is currently vice president. Born in 1954 in Mount Morgan, Queensland, her first degree in physics and mathematics was from the University of Queensland and her PhD from the ANU. She was the first female vice chancellor of the University of Adelaide (1996-2001), chaired the Research Grants Committee of the ARC and is currently the NSW chief scientist and engineer. She serves an academy that is marked, as is the AAS, by a decided gender imbalance. The ATSE has taken the unusual step for a learned academy to redress the gender ratio, beginning with the academy's adoption in November 2010 of a gender equity policy. In 2011, the academy instituted a positive discrimination policy to increase the numbers of women fellows. It announced the establishment of a target for the election of women at the rate of one-third of new fellows each year.
Australian Women's Register Entries
- Francis, Rosemary, Kramer, Leonie Judith (1924- ), The Australian Women's Register, National Foundation for Australian Women, 4 May 2009. http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0037b.htm. Details
- Francis, Rosemary, Hoff, Ursula (1909-2005), The Australian Women's Register, National Foundation for Australian Women, 1 May 2009. http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0256b.htm. Details
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