Laura AndersonYour name and position?
Laura Anderson, PhD Student - Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research (CYSAR) and School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

What have been your key career achievements?
I am grateful to have been accepted into a PhD program and to hold a top up scholarship from the Children's Hospital Foundation. I have studied abroad at the University of British Columbia in my undergraduate degree, and earned a UQ Advantage Award. In 2017 I presented my honours research in Montreal at the largest and most longstanding US conference on addiction and substance use - the College for Problems on Drug Dependence.

Have you faced any barriers as a woman?
Yes, I have faced barriers as a woman, as all women do. Most apparent to me are the subtle barriers that stem from broad structural problems (e.g. existing power structures dominated by men, media messages about femininity and masculinity). For example, I think it is often more challenging for women to get their opinions heard and valued. It is normally less acceptable for women to interrupt, lead, and self-promote their work. Often, women are expected to be more thankful to be given space (physical and metaphorical!), and we are more worried about taking up space. I don't believe we have fully eradicated sexism anywhere in the world. But we have come a long way. I am grateful that the barriers I face in Australia pale in comparison to my grandparents' generation.

What areas are you particularly passionate about that you would like to see change for women in the future?
I would love to see more women in positions of influence and power, for example in politics, policy making, law, journalism, and academia. Also I would love to see 'helping' professions (which are dominated by women, e.g. nursing, teaching) be recognised economically for the social value they add.

Can you suggest how young women, at any stage of their career or study, can overcome barriers and progress towards gender parity?
I think it's important to identify the role of gender (for example by asking - 'how might that have played out differently for a man?'). These sort of questions can help to identify sexism, which is usually the first step to challenging it (although often it's obvious!). I have found it encouraging to give specific feedback or observations of sexism to supportive men in my life to help increase their awareness. I think seeking out the voices of wiser women (in person, books, and film) has hugely helped me to actively recognise sexism - particularly sexism that I had internalised or simply accepted. It has given me a language to observe and articulate inequality. Hearing fellow women's experiences has also helped me to appreciate the progress we have made, and to foster my passion for feminism.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Learn about gender issues, talk about them with friends, and try to encourage others to learn, understand and take action!

Read more profiles