Monash scientist to become future global leader of women in STEM

Dr Kiri Beilby from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has been accepted into the prestigious Homeward Bound Global Leadership program for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Dr Kiri Beilby from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has been accepted into the prestigious Homeward Bound Global Leadership program for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Dr Beilby, the only successful candidate from Monash University, receives a one-year mentorship program in the areas of strategy, leadership practices, science communication and the role of gender in leadership and science.

The Homeward Bound program, initially the idea of Fabian Dattner (leadership activist and partner at Dattner Grant) and Dr Jess Melbourne Thomas (Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeler), together with Dr Justine Shaw (Antarctic Conservation Biologist), and Associate Professor Mary Anne Lee
(Antarctic Marine Biologist), aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

“The program involves relationship building, problem solving, strategizing, and communicating project findings with a global team of women in all areas of STEM,” Dr Beilby said.

“Throughout the year, monthly conference calls will connect the international team, and in December 2018 we will fly to Argentina and board a boat bound for Antarctica for 20 days where all the women in the program will come together to participate in face-to-face activities along the same themes.”

Launched in 2016, Homeward Bound aims to recruit 1000 targeted women from around the world within ten years.

Dr Beilby said the vision of the Program is to equip a 1000-strong global collaboration of women with a science background to lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision making as it informs the future of our planet.

A lecturer and course coordinator of the Graduate Diploma of Reproductive Science and supervisor of several research projects in reproductive biology, Dr Beilby is based at the Monash Medical Centre campus.

“My role at Monash University is focused on education and business development, with a strong interest in building industry partnerships. Our group also has diverse research interests in everything from the ethics of social egg freezing, to the conservation of fish species, to the development of contraceptives and assisted reproduction techniques for application in both Human infertility treatment and animal conservation,” Dr Beilby said.  

Before her role at Monash, Dr Beilby was the Head of Medical Marketing for ORIGIO, a global developer and manufacturer of products for human assisted reproduction, based in Copenhagen.  Her research background is in reproductive biotechnology and genetics.

Dr Beilby has a keen interest in science communication, having been a former freelance science writer for ABC Science Online, Cosmos Magazine, and CSIRO's Double Helix and Scientriffic magazines.

“Personally and professionally, Homeward Bound is an opportunity for me to meet with incredible women in all stages of their lives and careers, and I intend to use this opportunity to inspire, motivate and challenge my current place in life, and in the world,” Dr Beilby said.

“The program will allow me to develop skills in leadership that I can apply to my current position at Monash University, contributing further to the global and aspirational vision of Monash.”

“I work in the field of infertility and women's health, and still today, despite many more female graduates coming through the program, the top scientific positions in Australia are still dominated by men. Why? Gender roles in leadership need to be addressed, and we need to start encouraging and supporting young women early in their careers to challenge the current model.”

Dr Beilby acknowledges her supervisors Dr Sally Catt and Associate Professor Peter Temple-Smith for supporting her application to Homeward Bound.