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Kenny Research Institute-Empowering Women in STEMM

Kenny Research Institute

This is Kenzo (but his friends called him Kenny) our faithful, humorous and highly intelligent Akita. He came to us as an 8 week old pup and settled in as though he was always meant to be part of the family.

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Kenzo (His friends called him Kenny)

Last month and with heavy hearts we had to let him go after spending 10 years and 8 months with us. It was devastating to say the least.

My previous career path required long hours, dedication and focus that meant spending less time with Kenny than I liked. It was not possible to have him at work with me as doggie crèches are not known to exist within my employer’s workplace.

It pretty well sucked as this was not an ideal arrangement if an organization wants the best out of their people.

I then thought about so many of my female colleagues, married with young children who are also pursuing a career in science. So many women in the workforce especially in science are faced with the stark choices. They either have to return to work soon after having their children in order to salvage their careers in what is a highly competitive industry or quit.

Not withstanding the fact that in science the term “job security” is an oxymoron, there are still many women who are passionate about what they do and are willing to stick their necks out.

I tip my hat off to the ladies willing to forge a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM).

Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)

The predicament I faced has led me to my vision of building the Kenny Research Institute aimed specifically at supporting women in science. In doing so, Australia will not lose a highly educated and talented workforce that is vital to staying prosperous and relevant as a nation. (Take that onboard, politicians of ALL persuasions when you are considering cutting the budget to science and education).

In any endeavor there are good reasons and then there are the real (“selfish”) reasons. Do not for a moment think I am driven only by lofty, altruistic and philanthropic ambitions; in part I am also doing for my personal satisfaction.

The 7 foundation pillars of the Kenny Research Institute:

  1. Bright and talented postdoctoral fellows will have a guaranteed 5 year salary (virtually unheard of) and a research assistant to pursue their particular specialized research niche. It allows them time to develop their area of expertise instead of chasing short term grants. That is counter productive as it takes their time and energy away from the main game
  2. Each postdoc will be matched with a mentor. The mentor is there to help them navigate through the politics that exist within any industry and temper any naivety about how the real world works
  3. Participation in personal development courses is compulsory; this includes being taught emotional intelligence enhancement skills. Gee, I wish I was taught that at school, how about you?
  4. Attendance in financial literacy courses is mandatory. Financial literacy equals financial freedom
  5. The Kenny Research Institute will be equipped with a human crèche, infirmary and a pet crèche. Happy mothers who can have regular contact with their human or fur kids are more likely to be focused and productive
  6. A 24 hour gym on site to cater to the irregular hours worked Notice the emphasis on health and wellness?
  7. A 24 hour cafeteria onsite that serves healthy meals. Junk food and soft drinks will not be available from the vending machines. If they want to eat crap they have to go elsewhere to forage for it. Good luck!

This is my promise to you Kenzo; RIP 25 June 2003- 24 February 2014