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Celebrating our Women of Influence: International Women’s Day 2024

Each and every day, but especially on International Women’s Day each March 8th, we celebrate the impact of the important women across the world, who support each other and work to champion lasting social and cultural change.

On IWD 2024, we remember that the scope of this appreciation is not limited to women of great influence, but to those who do not have the benefit of the world stage and spotlight to illuminate their impactful investigative research in science and engineering. Behind closed doors, sealed laboratories and quiet cubicles, there are incredible women who walk the edge of innovation so that we may run in the future, as beneficiaries of their pioneering spirit.

Dr Jessica Allen: Recipient of Young Tall Poppy Science Award (2023)
International Women's Day embodies the recognition of the pivotal role women play in shaping our world, inspiring me to break barriers and pursue my dreams fearlessly. My journey as an engineer is indebted to witnessing my mother's achievements in engineering, which instilled in me the belief that I too could excel in this field, highlighting the profound impact of female role models Vanessa Arteaga | Process Engineer Future Fuels - Origin

IWD 2024 Theme

The theme for this year’s IWD is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, and this is perhaps an apt reflection of the phenomenal work quietly taking place across the ARC Training Centre for the Global Hydrogen Economy (GlobH2E), and the Particles and Catalysis Laboratories (PARTCAT), and the Powerfuels including Hydrogen Network (PFHN) of the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub.

The power of equity in bettering outcomes across all sectors in society has been clear enough that box ticking in many cases has transformed into many organisations truly taking on values of equity and diversity. We still have a long way to go, but investing in women is allowing for society to see progress for the betterment of all, not just a select few. Dr Jessica Allen | Senior Lecturer/DECRA Fellow, University of Newcastle and Investigator for PFHN

Making a difference begins with an acceptance of the diversity of our contributions, and for the Women in STEMM across these centres, the inclusivity of their activities is testament to a culture of empowerment, education and engagement. An investment in women accelerates the progress not just for a single gender.

In the case of the superheroes of PARTCAT, GlobH2E and the PFHN, the fervour with which our women fight for solutions to ongoing global crises, all while traversing systemic social barriers, will serve as a catalyst for the accelerated progress of science and engineering to benefit all future generations.

Miss Charlotte Zhu: PhD Candidate from GlobH2E, UNSW Sydney
IWD advocates for the establishment of equal and supportive environments that understands, believes, and invests in the capabilities and potential of women and girls Miss Charlotte Zhu | PhD Candidate, ARC Training Centre for the Global Hydrogen Economy

Thoughts from the Women of Our Centres on IWD 2024

Dr Shujie Zhou

Postdoctoral researcher | PartCat Group, GlobH2E

Dr Shujie Zhou's research focuses on advancing solar energy utilisation and conversion and making the process more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective.

On the current state of gender equality: More and more girls are willing to study in STEM fields and it's no longer male-dominated fields. We can see many brilliant females showing their great achievements in different fields. However, there are still some traditional thoughts, that limit the development of females.

When asked what she believes must be done to accelerate progress towards a more equal society, Shujie notes that the promotion of STEM education to girls, while offering training to equip women with the skills necessary for roles in these sectors is a must.

She also notes that It is also important to SAY NO to gender-based discrimination and end gender-based violence. Make sure women have access to the resources and support they need to heal and seek justice. In addition, it is essential to implement policies and initiatives to promote women's workforce participation and leadership.

Dr Cui Ying Toe

Lecturer | University of Newcastle

Dr Cui Ying Toe works in the renewable energy sector, is a lecturer in Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of Newcastle, and is an associate investigator in GlobH2E. Dr Toe is also a representative on the Expert Panel of the PFHN.

On who inspires her: there are multiple role models who [have motivated] me throughout different stages of my life, these include my parent, my lecturers and my PhD supervisors. Each has played a distinct role in shaping who I am today.

On work-life balance: Balance means that you are able to schedule your own time to work on things that you enjoy and spend quality time with your family and friends. Being an academic, I enjoy what I do at work but at the same time, dedicate some time for myself or my family.

Dr Sarah Grundy

Lecturer | UNSW Sydney

Dr Sarah Grundy is an Education Focused Academic in the School of Chemical Engineering UNSW and recipient of 2020 UNSW Teaching Award. She has a research passion in sustainable manufacturing through advanced materials application, scale-up as well as engineering education to improve student experience. She is an associate investigator at GlobH2E.

On work-life balance: Try my best to have quality time with family and friends when possible. Very challenging at times, but more importantly to live what I teach as well and lead via example.

On the current state of gender equality: It has improved over the years through more opportunities for strong women leaders in all areas and industries.

When asked who inspires her, Sarah names one person in particular: Scientia Professor Rose Amal. Inspirational leader to so many, as an outstanding researcher and exemplar to women in any field. More importantly, she is a wonderful person that has genuine care for all around her.

Elise Elkington

PhD Candidate | UNSW Sydney

Elise Elkington is a PhD candidate in the Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PartCat Group). She wants to drive real change in Australia’s approach to climate issues. Although unsure in what particular area she will do this - whether it's working in research, for a government organization, or in policy—but one thing's for sure: she will stay in the climate space!

On the current state of gender equality: Efforts to raise awareness about gender issues, implement programs aimed at supporting women, and advocate for policy changes are steps in the right direction. However, sustained action and commitment are needed to address systemic barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable society for all genders.

On how best to balance her life as a researcher, she notes I've found that establishing a routine that aligns with my natural energy levels is key for balance. I prefer starting work early in the morning and wrapping up by early afternoon, which gives me the freedom to head to the beach for a quick afternoon dip.

When asked what success means to her, she equates it to effort. Success, for me, boils down to the effort I put in. If I'm satisfied with the amount of work I've poured into something, then I'm happy with the outcome.

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