This Saturday is the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science. In a perfect world where women were equally paid and represented at all levels of science, such a day might not need to exist. Despite the continued challenges for many women pursuing a career in science, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan boast a diverse workforce and some of the world’s most brilliant female plant scientists and botanists. Their stories bring good news and encouragement to all the girls and young women in the world wondering if working in science is the right path for them.
Of the 56 paid science staff working at the two gardens, 30 are women and several are in senior positions. Another four female staff members are retired honorary researchers, including Barbara Briggs who this year celebrates her 58th year working at the Gardens. This level of representation in the workforce is well above average for a lot of scientific organisations despite the gender balance being equal at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels of science study.
Female staff are currently working across all areas of Garden science including genetics, taxonomy, seed research, collection management, horticultural science, ecology and botanical illustration. Each tell unique and fascinating stories of their journey to becoming scientists, many coming to the profession later in life or after successful careers in other fields.