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In mid-2014, Joseph Sambrook and Mary-Jane Gething – both now retired after distinguished careers in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology – established a private ancillary fund (PAF) managed by Equity Trustees. Mary-Jane is a third-generation Equity Trustees client, following in the footsteps of her grandfather who established a trusted connection with us.

The growing aim of the Gething-Sambrook Family Foundation is to support people in three areas:

•  In science, supporting outstanding early-career researchers, with a focus on promoting gender equality and opportunities for female scientists

•  In the arts, to foster young and emerging talent

•  In education, to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children overcome challenges.

As demonstrated in a recent report by the University of Melbourne for SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity), women comprise more than 50% of science PhD graduates and postdoctoral researchers, yet their representation drops continuously through the various academic levels to approximately 20% at the professorial level. This is primarily because women generally start families at the same time that researchers need to build up their productivity and profile to justify promotion.

This issue is one that Mary-Jane is particularly passionate about, hence her establishment of the MJ Gething Gender Equity Awards. These awards support early-career researchers at the University of Melbourne’s School of Biomedical Sciences, allowing them to work, maintain research momentum and build their profile while taking maternity/paternity or carer’s leave. Although the awards are currently limited to eligible early-career researchers in the School of Biomedical Sciences, it is hoped that this program will provide sufficient evidence of need and efficacy to encourage the development of similar programs in other schools and faculties at the university. It is also hoped that awards such as these will not only help current early-career researchers with caring responsibilities to establish and progress their careers, but will instil confidence in young women contemplating careers in STEMM fields that the research community is aware of and committed to the removal of barriers to gender equity.