Inspiring Stories: webinar series

In this monthly series Professor Natalie Hannan, Associate Dean Diversity and Inclusion, invites women in leadership to discuss significant moments in their careers and to share their advice, knowledge and experience.

"I hope that by presenting this series for colleagues that we open up conversations about women in the workplace and feel better connected and confident to achieve our best."
(Professor Natalie Hannan)

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Professor Wendy Chapman: Using a non-binary approach to leadership and gender equity

Professor Wendy Chapman is the Associate Dean of Digital Health and Informatics as well as the Director of the Centre for Digital Transformation of Health. Wendy’s background is as a researcher in leveraging data and digital technology to transform healthcare delivery. She’s spent two decades developing and evaluating AI and natural language processing algorithms. She has also led many multidisciplinary programs of work on research, education, and application of digital health.

Professor Michelle Ryan: Implementing evidence-based interventions to increase gender equality

Professor Michelle Ryan is a world-renowned gender equality expert, a professor of social and organisational psychology, and the inaugural Director of the Australian National University's Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL). Her extensive body of research covers a range of constraints on women's careers such as the impact of COVID-19 on gender inequalities, how perceptions of equality can lead to gender bias, the motherhood penalty, and the benefits of quotas and affirmative action. Michelle works closely with corporate, government and professional organisations to identify gender equality issues and design bespoke solutions.


  • Professor Sue Matthews: Steering the healthcare system to enhance equality and women’s health outcomes

    Professor Sue Matthews is the Chief Executive Officer at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Prior to moving to Melbourne, Professor Matthews worked for many years in Canada, advising government on nursing and health system issues, and most recently as CEO of the Niagara Health System in Ontario. Professor Matthews began her career as a nurse and has worked in education and health care management in hospitals, acute care, and community health settings. She is a Fellow of the Wharton School of Business, an Adjunct Professor at Trent and Swinburne Universities, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne. In 2008, she received the Canadian Nurses Association Centennial Award and was recognised as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2004. In 2012 she received the Margret Comack Award for Nursing Leadership.

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  • SWiM Special edition: In conversation with Dame Sarah Gilbert

    Professor Gilbert joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University in 1994 and became part of the Jenner Institute (within NDM) when it was founded in 2005. Professor Gilbert’s research has been on the development of vaccines against infectious diseases, including vaccine design, preclinical and clinical assessment of vaccines produced using viral vector platform technologies. In 2020 Professor Gilbert initiated and led the rapid production and development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (Vaxzevria) which was licensed to AstraZeneca and is now in use in over 180 countries. Professor Gilbert was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2021 in recognition of her work during the 2020 pandemic.

    Her book, Vaxxers, describing the development of Vaxzevria was a Sunday Times bestseller. Other awards include the Royal Society of Medicine Gold Medal, the Princesa de Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, 2021 and the Sunhak Peace prize 2022.

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  • Associate Professor Misty Jenkins AO: STEMinism, Indigenous leadership, and innovative cancer treatment research

    Associate Professor Misty Jenkins AO is a Gunditjmara woman and laboratory head in the Immunology Division at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research. Misty leads the immunotherapy program within the Brain Cancer Centre and is dedicated to discovering new treatments for adult and paediatric brain cancer by studying lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that can protect against viruses and cancer. Throughout her career, Associate Professor Jenkins has advocated for greater inclusion and diversity in scientific research, particularly for women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Misty received an Order of Australia in the 2023 King's Birthday Honours for her distinguished service to medical science as an immunologist, to the promotion of women in STEM, and to the Indigenous community.

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  • Professor Laura Mackay: Breaking barriers and role modelling for Women in STEMM

    Laura Mackay is a Laboratory Head and Immunology Theme Leader at the Peter Doherty Institute. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Bill and Melinda Gates International Scholar, a Dame Kate Campbell Fellow, a Silvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation Senior Medical Research Fellow, and an NHMRC Leadership Fellow. In 2022, Laura was the youngest Fellow elected to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Her specific research is focused on T-cells and the immune system, specifically tissue-resident memory T cells, and how memory T cells protect the body against disease. She is at the forefront of research on immunological memory, and her research in tissue-resident memory T cells has the potential to make effective vaccines for diseases such as malaria and the flu and different types of cancer.

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  • Dr Flora Hui: Visibility, barriers and multiculturalism: Growing as an early-mid career researcher from a migrant background in Australia

    Dr Flora Hui is an optometrist and a Research Fellow at the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences in the School of Health Sciences and the Centre for Eye Research Australia. Flora's research is focused on new treatments and diagnostics for eye diseases, including glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. She led the team that proved the potential protective effects of nicotinamide in people with glaucoma, which culminated in a world-first clinical trial investigating its potential for neuroprotection in glaucoma. Flora is a passionate science communicator, having been selected for ABC Top 5 (Science) in 2022 and as one of the Superstars of STEM (2023-2024).

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  • Associate Professor Michelle Telfer: Perseverance, resilience and anchorage - keys to shifting culture and antiquated ways

    Associate Professor Michelle Telfer is a Paediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Physician and is currently the Acting Chief of Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Previously, Michelle was the Director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service where she was instrumental in the expansion of the clinical and research programs for trans-specific health care in children and adolescents. Michelle has advised the Victorian Government on transgender health care for children and adolescents through the Trans and Gender Diverse Expert Advisory Group since 2016. She gave expert testimony to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System in 2020 and led the development of the national clinical guidelines for trans and gender-diverse children and adolescents, endorsed internationally by The Lancet.

    Michelle’s medical expertise has been called on by federal legislators for the landmark legal reform that now enables transgender young people to access hormone and surgical treatment without the need for approval by the Family Court of Australia.

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  • The Honourable Jaala Pulford: Unions, politics and medical research; building a career with impact

    The Honourable Jaala Pulford is a former Australian politician. She was a Labor Party member of the Victorian Parliament from 2006-2022, representing the Western Victoria region. During the Andrews Government, Jaala was Deputy Leader of the Government and Victoria's first female Agriculture Minister where she led significant reform, including the establishment of Regional Partnerships and a medicinal cannabis industry. As Minister for Employment, Jaala steered Jobs Victoria through the pandemic, leading the government’s efforts to help small businesses navigate and survive the impact of lockdowns. As Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Jaala secured both Moderna and BioNTech for Melbourne, cementing a local end-to-end mRNA vaccine capability, supply certainty, an R&D hub and significant research investment. In 2023, Jaala Pulford was appointed a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

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  • Professor Nicola Phillips: Inclusion, equity and respect in academia: Importance of committed leadership

    Professor Nicola Phillips is the Provost of the University (Academic Lead, Chancellery) and the standing deputy to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. Before arriving in Melbourne, Nicola was Vice President and Vice Principal (Education) at King’s College London, with responsibility for King’s wide-ranging strategy for excellence and innovation in education and the student experience. She is a Professor of Political Economy with a strong interdisciplinary orientation. Nicola’s academic interests lie in the areas of global political economy, development, and economic governance.

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  • Associate Professor Shawana Andrews: Issues of inclusion and equity in Indigenous health

    Associate Professor Shawana Andrews is a Trawlwoolway Palawa woman from North Eastern Tasmania. She is Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Shawana leads teaching and learning initiatives on Indigenous leadership and academic pathways in health. At the Poche Centre, she is developing international partnerships and connections to support this work. Shawana's research includes Aboriginal graduate research candidate experiences and social capital, place and purpose of Aboriginal health leadership, Aboriginal mothering practices and family violence, Aboriginal feminisms and gendered knowledges, and cultural practice-based methodologies.

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  • Professor Lou Harms: Promoting Equity and Resilience - Adapting to Change

    Lou Harms is the Chair and Head of Social Work at the University of Melbourne, and Deputy Head of the School of Health Sciences, in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. From 2015 to 2019, Lou was Associate Dean (Diversity and Inclusion) for MDHS, reflective of her long-standing concern with facilitating structural and cultural change. Lou’s research focuses on the interplay between adversity, growth and recovery at both an individual and community level.

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  • The Hon. Mary Wooldridge: Workplace gender equality - Where to from here?

    Mary Wooldridge is an experienced leader in the non-profit, public and corporate sectors, and is currently Director of the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. For 13 years, Mary was a senior leader within the Victorian Liberal Party, serving as Leader in the Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Health, Jobs, Innovation & Trade, Training, Skills and Higher Education and as Minister for Mental Health, Community Services and Women’s Affairs. These portfolios saw Mary at the forefront of the Coalition Government’s major overhaul of the state child protection and out-of-home care system, securing a full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Victoria, whole-of-government action plans in alcohol and drugs and family violence and reform of community mental health and alcohol and drug treatment systems.

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  • Lord Mayor Sally Capp: From corporate to council - And all the chapters in between

    Sally Capp is the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and the first woman to be directly elected to the role. Sally came to local politics following a long career as a lawyer, a senior executive and a businesswoman, having started her own business in venture capital and subsequently listed on the ASX. She had senior positions at KPMG, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and the Property Council. Since recovering from cancer, Sally’s professional life took on a community focus, working as CEO for the Committee for Melbourne and as Victoria's first female agent-general in London. Sally entered local government in 2018 and was re-elected as the Lord Mayor in 2020. She is involved in various charities and is currently on the board of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and the Mary Jane Lewis Scholarship Foundation.

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  • Senator Janet Rice: Welcome to the party - A career in academia, advocacy, public life and politics

    A prominent politician and Senator for the Australian Greens, Janet Rice is also a former Mayor, local Councillor, environmentalist and facilitator. Janet has been a passionate campaigner for justice, people, and the planet for more than thirty years. A climate scientist by training, she began her working life campaigning to protect our forests. Janet was part of the 1983 Franklin River Blockade, and a leader of the campaign that resulted in the creation of the Errinundra National Park in East Gippsland. Within a decade, she was a founding member of the Greens Party in Victoria.

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  • Associate Professor Ada Cheung: Research, advocacy and allyship – Working with the trans and gender diverse community

    Ada is an NHMRC/Dame Kate Campbell Research Fellow and Board Member of the Endocrine Society of Australia. She has a staunch passion for equity, driven largely by her personal experiences of disadvantage. Since completing her PhD in 2017 and listening to numerous barriers to health faced by her patients, she established the Trans Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne intending to provide robust evidence to improve the health and wellbeing of the transgender (trans) community. Her team is one of few worldwide that undertakes clinical trials to better understand gender-affirming hormone therapy, evaluate optimal models of care and improve the mental health of the trans community.

  • Professor Sandra Eades: Indigenous academic development: Gender equity and intersectionality

    Returning to the University of Melbourne this year, Professor Sandra Eades was appointed the Rowden White Chair and Associate Dean, Indigenous for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. We are thrilled that she will be joining us in the conversation for the next instalment of our Supporting Women in MDHS (SWiM) Inspiring Stories. Professor Sandra Eades is a Noongar woman with family from the Minang and Goreng mobs in southwest Western Australia who has made pioneering contributions to the epidemiology of Aboriginal child health throughout her career.

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  • Dr Gioconda Di Lorenzo: Equity, gender and leadership in progressing academic and professional career paths

    Gioconda has almost 20 years of experience as a professional and academic member of staff at the University of Melbourne. She commenced in the role of University Secretary in January 2015. Before commencing her career as a professional member of staff, Gioconda completed a PhD in History, and worked as a sessional lecturer and tutor. Her doctoral thesis focused on the post-war mass migration to Australia of a southern Italian community.

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  • Associate Professor Lilon bandler: Career detours, the problem with chasing perfection and what a meaningful career looks like

    A/Prof Bandler is the principal research fellow for the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network.  She has a long history of involvement in medical education.  She is a member of the Macquarie University Humanities and Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee.  She provides regular GP services to rural and remote western NSW.  She has been a member of the Far West Local Health District (NSW) Board since 2018.

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  • Professor Nancy Baxter: Systemic barriers facing women in STEMM, moving towards gender equity

    Professor Nancy Baxter moved to Australia in February 2020 for the next adventure, and COVID did not disappoint! Her public role in the Victorian and Australia-wide responses to the pandemic, including her work with media as a sought after public health expert has been a highlight of her career.

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  • Professor Jennifer Philip: Flexible work arrangements for gender equality

    Professor Jennifer Philip is a palliative care clinician, researcher and teacher whose particular areas of interest include improving the ways supportive and palliative care are delivered, ensuring care is underpinned by high-quality evidence and that it is delivered by well-trained professionals and carers. She leads the Palliative Nexus Research Group, partnering with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, to advance equity, access and quality of care in serious illness. She has a lead role in improving palliative care clinical trial capacity and participation in Victoria.

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  • Dr Rita Hardiman: Navigating barriers faced after extraordinary life events

    Dr Rita Hardiman is a teaching and research academic in the Melbourne Dental School. In 2011, after a return to work from maternity leave, and less than a year post-PhD, Rita was involved in a life-threatening incident: she was run over by a semi-trailer on her way home. This had devastating effects on Rita and her young family, as well as doing significant damage to her emerging career in academia. After five months in hospital and physical rehabilitation, Rita started to re-establish her research career; succeeding in her recovery and progression in part through supportive networks and strong advocacy.

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  • Professor Jane Gunn: Listening, learning and renovating workplace culture

    Professor Jane Gunn is a general practitioner with a distinguished academic career and over 25 years of experience in implementing research into clinical practice. As the university's inaugural Chair of Primary Care Research, her work in mental health addresses a leading cause of disability burden and she is a current member of a number of health service boards. Jane is also passionate about ensuring we have a safe, inclusive work environment where we are all able to thrive and has made improving workplace culture a priority as Dean.

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  • Julia Page: Key ingredients for progression towards gender equity in STEMM

    Julia Page was appointed chief executive officer of veski in 2004 after a career spanning the public, private and philanthropic sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom. In the time she has been with veski, Julia has actively led initiatives for women in science and research and was instrumental in the development of the veski inspiring women program including a series of professional development activities and the inaugural veski inspiring women fellowships. She is passionate about delivering diverse and inclusive programs, including the veski inspiring women STEM side-by-side program, developed to empower women at differing career stages with the skills, networks and mindset to develop and achieve their career goals within STEM industries.

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  • Leonie Walsh: Two careers in one, the why and the how

    Leonie Walsh is a Board Chair and strategic adviser in technological innovation with over 30 years of local and international experience across a broad range of industries. More recently Leonie completed a three-year term as Victoria’s inaugural Lead Scientist from 2013 to 2016. In this capacity, Leonie was a contributing member of the Future Industries Ministerial Advisory Council, helped establish the Inspiring Women Fellowship program, represented Victoria on the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists and participated as an industry expert on a range of Government grant and scholarship programs.

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  • Professor Sharon Lewin: The critical importance of good leadership in crisis

    Professor Sharon Lewin is a leading infectious diseases expert, inaugural director of the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, Professor of Medicine and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellow. Professor Lewin's leadership of the Doherty Institute and calm and informed media presence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been nothing short of inspirational.

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  • Professor Laura Parry: Fixing the system while smashing imposter syndrome

    Professor Laura Parry has three decades of experience in higher education, as a researcher, research leader and award-winning educator, and is internationally renowned for her expertise and ground-breaking research in reproductive and vascular biology. In September 2020, she was appointed interim Executive Dean of Sciences at the University of Adelaide, after a 10-month appointment as Head of School, Biological Sciences. Furthermore, she is a champion of the greater participation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

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  • Professor Til Wykes: Gender equality and mental health

    Til is a Professor of Clinical Psychology and Rehabilitation and Head of The School of Mental Health and Psychological Sciences at Kings College, London. Her research has been varied with explorations in cognitive science, developing treatments and evaluations of those treatments - mostly for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Til is the editor of the Journal of Mental Health, holder of a Guinness World record for the largest mental health lesson and has been awarded a Damehood for her work in mental health.

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  • Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM: Mentorship, sponsorship and allyship

    Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM is a scientist and entrepreneur. She is Executive Director of the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), and co-founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. In this conversation, she talks about finding a mentor, knowing your career 'why' and believing in yourself during uncertain times.

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  • Dr Ngaree Blow: The visibility of First Nations women

    Dr Ngaree Blow is a Yorta-Yorta, Noonuccal, Goreng-Goreng woman living on Wurundjeri country. She is currently working as the Director of First Nations Health for Medical Education at the University of Melbourne, as well as medical lead in the COVID-19 case, contact and outbreak management team at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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  • Professor Julie Bines: The importance of mentoring for women academics

    Professor Julie Bines is a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne and a Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Head of Clinical Nutrition at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She leads the Enteric Disease Group at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute working to develop an affordable novel rotavirus vaccine, RV3-BB vaccine, aimed at preventing rotavirus disease from birth in infants worldwide. She is Director of the WHO Collaborative Centre for Child Health and consulted with the World Health Organization.

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  • A/Prof Susan Hurley: A career in STEMM, culminating in a novel

    Associate Professor Susan Hurley is a writer and medical researcher with expertise in health economics, pharmacoepidemiology and public health policy. She is the author of the novel Eight Lives (Affirm Press, 2019), which has its origins in a catastrophic first-in-human trial of a monoclonal antibody.

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