Dr Melina Georgousakis: inspiring the next generation of female scientists
Bupa Health Foundation’s Dr Melina Georgousakis has been recognised for her work with ‘Franklin Women’, helping to break down barriers that prevent women from thriving in health and medical research careers.
It’s been a whirlwind week for Dr Melina Georgousakis, who was honoured on the Impact 25 list for her work with Franklin Women.
The list, compiled by Pro Bono Australia recognises the 25 most influential Australians working in the social sector.
Dr Georgousakis founded Franklin Women in 2014 to support women in health and medical research to build stronger networks and professional opportunities, to address the gender equity challenges she saw during her decade long career in the sector.
Medical research is an incredibly competitive field and traditionally there has only been one supported career path, which is academia. However, there are number of systemic and cultural barriers still within science that make it challenging for women to get ahead so we have been losing many talented women from the sector all together.
While many industries have professional networks for women, Dr Georgousakis saw a gap in the health and medical research sector and set out to do something on a grassroots level. And so, Franklin Women was born, its namesake a female scientist who challenged the status quo.
“I wanted a name that was meaningful and Rosalind Franklin’s story is very inspiring. She was the first to discover the double helix structure of DNA, and she did it at a time when women weren’t encouraged to study, let alone work in science. Sadly, hers is the story of a talented female scientist who never got recognition in her time,” said Dr Georgousakis.
Taking inspiration from the women that came before her, Dr Georgousakis now hopes to inspire the next generation of scientists through Franklin Women’s mentorship program, events, scholarships and outreach to health research organisations.
Franklin Women started as individual women supporting each other and now we’re excited to see that expanding to the organisations they work for. We want a sector that values diversity and the better health outcomes that can come from a sector that represents the community.
Dr Georgousakis knew from a young age that she wanted to study science and is now a passionate advocate for alternative career paths in the field, having followed one herself. She cut her teeth in the lab developing new vaccines before moving into public health.
More recently, she has lent her expertise to the Bupa Health Foundation. In her role as Research and Policy Manager she is focused on investing across the research sector in projects that will provide a net benefit for the health of the community.
“I truly believe a passion for science can take you anywhere, and while research is important we need scientists in roles across every sector. It’s a privilege to work in a team that is so passionate about public health and to support innovative research outside the typical sources,” said Melina.
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