Winnifred LouisYour name and position?
Winnifred Louis, Professor in Psychology, Deputy Head of School (research).

What have been your key career achievements?
In securing my professional career, key highlights were getting a tenure track job at UQ (whoohoo!) and being promoted to professor; I also have won a number of teaching, mentoring, and research awards. My research though is my favourite career achievement: it is about the relationship of identity and decision-making and the under-valued importance of norms (social rules for behaviour). One thrill last year was when I was able to testify about this research at a Senate inquiry, and my testimony was described as “compelling” in the Hansard record!

Have you faced any barriers as a woman?
To someone of my generation, that is a ridiculous question: my guess is that we all at various times have faced bigoted professors, sexist peers, and sexual harassment, and I am no different. However, I was also fortunate in being able to find many supportive mentors and peers, and encouragement to pursue a job that I love.

What areas are you particularly passionate about that you would like to see change for women in the future?
I hope that there could be more support for parents in academia (something that affects women, and men, of course!) and recognition of the difficulties of academic life in terms of timing children. I also hope that there could be stronger recognition of the intersectional challenges for women of colour, especially in Australian Indigenous women.

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 depends on the problems that they are facing. For explicit bigotry, sexual harassment, and discrimination, the University now provides support and there are resources online; there also would be many supportive, informed mentors who could help to challenge and overcome the problem. For more subtle double standards and the difficulties of managing primary caregiving in academia while sustaining productivity in publication and functioning well in teaching, it is vital to seek peer support and supportive mentors (who are fewer but still present!). Here at UQ I also think the promotion workshops for women run by Polly Parker are extremely valuable and I endorse them strongly.

Anything else you’d like to add?
It is great to see interest in this topic! I hope that we see change on the ground in the proportion of women students and staff and promotions/career support.

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