Indian-origin Prof. Madhu Bhaskaran to co-lead ‘Women in STEMM Australia’

She is a staunch advocate for women in science and a highly committed advocate of diversity, inclusion, and allyship in STEMM.

Women in STEMM Australia has appointed Prof. Madhu Bhaskaran and Sarah Chapman to replace outgoing co-chair and co-founder, Michelle Gallaher.

The organisation was founded in 2014. It shares wide-ranging information relevant to women and underrepresented groups in STEMM.

Further, it amplifies STEMM associations and social enterprises whose values and goals are aligned and also shines a light on the gaps in the sector, including in policy and best practice.

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A statement by Women in STEMM Australia said:

“Together, the new leadership team wants to create a broader, more inclusive network for a diverse range of underrepresented students and professionals in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and medicine across all professional sectors.”

Prof. Bhaskaran, who leads the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University in Melbourne, is a globally recognised engineer and applied research leader. She is also the Associate Dean for Higher Degrees by Research at the School of Engineering. 

She is a staunch advocate for women in science and a highly committed advocate of diversity, inclusion, and allyship in STEMM.

Image source: Prof. Madhu Bhaskaran – RMIT.

Prof. Bhaskaran is also co-founder of the Women Researchers’ Network at RMIT University and has served on the Executive then Board of Directors with Women in STEMM Australia since 2015.

On her appointment as co-chair, she said:

“It is an honour to take on this role alongside Sarah and I am excited to see how we can bring our multi-sector experience to this organisation’s leadership.

Diversity and inclusion conversations and measures have come a long way since Women in STEMM Australia was first established and I am very proud to have this opportunity to take the organisation forward with a clear lens of intersectionality.”

Prof. Bhaskaran has served for years on the Women in STEMM Australia board and has received numerous awards for her innovative research, industry collaborations, and leadership.

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These include the Batterham Medal from the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering, the Frederick White Prize from the Australian Academy of Science, and the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

In 2020, Prof. Bhaskaran also won the ‘40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian Award’ in the Science & Medicine category.

Sarah Chapman is Head of Department at the Department of Education and Training at Townsville State High School (Queensland). She graduated from the James Cook University (JCU) with a Bachelor of Science (Honours Class 1) in 1999 and a Bachelor of Education in 2004.

Sarah has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics project which aims to develop specific skills and an interest in science in middle school students.

Sarah Chapman said,

“I am humbled to continue on the Women in STEMM Australia legacy founded by two very inspirational women, Marguerite and Michelle.”

“This organisation will continue to connect women across the nation and provide a platform of influence, allyship, and advocacy. I am moved to have the opportunity to co-lead with Madhu and bring more depth of focus on underrepresented groups within the STEMM ecosystem,” she added.

Outgoing co-chair Michelle Gallaher said,

“I am delighted to reflect and celebrate the achievements of our diverse community at this important moment, and to pass the baton to the next generation of leaders.”

The act of passing the leadership on recognises and models the importance of relinquishing a seat to make way for new voices and ideas. An action that we need to see more of in the STEMM community.”