Queensland Museum breaking the bias for International Womens Day

08 March 2022

From one female staff member in 1911 to 246 in 2022, this International Women’s Day Queensland Museum recognises that everyone has a role to play in forging a more gender-balanced world.

Eileen Murphy wasn’t exactly breaking the glass ceiling in 1911 when she started working at Queensland Museum, but she holds the title as the first woman to be appointed to permanent staff at the museum – 49 years after the museum was established in 1862.

Fast-forward 111-years, Queensland Museum Network has a strong female leader, Margaret Sheil AO, at the helm as Chair of the Queensland Museum Board along with 246 female staff making up 67 per cent of the workforce, working across a range of fields. A far cry from when 20-year-old Eileen Murphy started her 42-year career with the museum.

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said the museum was encouraging all staff, including male allies to help #BreakTheBias to create a more equal society.

“In 2022 International Women’s Day asks people to imagine a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination,” Dr Thompson said.

“I would like to think that Eileen Murphy, as the first woman working at Queensland Museum, would be proud of where the museum is today with women working across the organisation as scientists, curators and also part of our executive leadership team.

“Collectively we can all Break the Bias and as an organisation we will continue to strive to have equality in the workforce.”

According toUNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women.

At Queensland Museum, 17 women work in the biodiversity and geosciences team as permanent staff, representing 50 per cent of the workforce and have contributed to scientific papers and research, along with describing new species.

The museum curatorial team the comprises 17 women also work to ensure women are represented and documented in the State Collection, through acquisitioning collection items that relate to strong females that are part of Queensland’s history. This includes items belonging to Lores Bonney, the first woman to fly from Australia to England; a microscope belonging to Professor Dorothy Hill, who was the first female president of the Australian Academy of Science; and a tablecloth belonging to Irene Longman, the first female sitting member in the Queensland Parliament.

And as for the glass ceiling, Queensland Museum’s Executive Leadership Team comprises four women, representing 57 per cent per cent of the team.

For more information about International Women’s Day visit www.internationalwomensday.com and to view some fascinating collection items from Queensland Museum visit www.qm.qld.gov.au

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