Louise HicksonYour name and position?
Professor Louise Hickson, Head of the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

What have been your key career achievements?
Starting as a lecturer in audiology in 1989 without a PhD and successfully obtaining a PhD in 1995 and then being promoted in my academic career from lecturer, to senior lecturer to Associate Professor and then to Professor in 2007. Since 2010 I have been privileged to be Head of this brilliant School at UQ which has outstanding staff and students who are striving to improve quality of life for people with disabilities.

Have you faced any barriers as a woman?
I have faced subtle discrimination of various kinds throughout my career - for example, colleagues assuming that I will or will not be able to do something for “family reasons”, that I will be “soft” and not prepared to make difficult decisions, that I will not be as capable as males in adopting new technologies. What these individuals portray to me is clearly a reflection of their biases towards women in general and the stereotypes that they hold.

What areas are you particularly passionate about that you would like to see change for women in the future?
I would like to see greater representation of women at the highest levels of the University and of other major organisations. At UQ for example, we have more women with lower level appointments than men but at the higher levels this is reversed with more men holding senior appointments.

Can you suggest how young women, at any stage of their career or study, can overcome barriers and progress towards gender parity?
Have confidence in yourself - put your hand up for new jobs and promotions when they come along. Don’t wait to be asked. Seek out senior women mentors to support you. 

Anything else you’d like to add?
I have seen enormous positive change for women in my lifetime. My mother had to stop work when she married my father! So great strides have been made and I am sure it will continue to improve.

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