Postgraduates in the fields of biological sciences and chemistry are part of an exceptionally highly qualified, small but rapidly growing population in Australia. The high proportion of doctoral graduates as compared to masters’ graduates sets the chemistry and biology population apart from graduates in other fields and undoubtedly impacts upon patterns of employment.
Improved job security is identified by project survey respondents in the Women in the Science Research Workforce report as the single factor that would make a difference to achieve greater job satisfaction – less than half the respondents to the project survey were employed in full-time, continuing positions, with males constituting the majority in this employment category. Women outnumbered men in the employment category full-time, fixed-term contracts and in the part-time and casual categories.
Patterns of women and men’s participation are differentiated by industry, with women predominantly employed in the education and health sectors, and men in scientific and technical industries and manufacturing. Women are employed in a wider range of roles than men, indicative of adaptive strategies (Case & Richley, 2013) to fit life circumstances, especially in the mid-career phase. The professional contexts of the biological and biomedical sciences are very different to those of the chemistry related industries indicating that ‘whole of science’ strategies may need to be nuanced to ensure the most effective approach to change.