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Children’s Hospital Foundation is delighted to announce the return of the Mary McConnel Career Boost Program for Women in Paediatric Research for 2024, thanks to the generous support of fashion powerhouse, DISSH.

In a leap toward narrowing the gender gap in academic research, the Mary McConnel Career Boost Program offers vital support and financial aid to female researchers in the pre-PHD through to early and mid-stages of their careers.

Despite recent efforts in the sector, men continue to predominate among senior researchers and academic leaders in universities, medical research institutes and hospitals.

Right now, women only account for 20 per cent of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes.

Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO, Lyndsey Rice, is thrilled to partner with DISSH on this important initiative.

“At the Children’s Hospital Foundation, we understand the importance of equality in the workplace and are committed to playing our part in promoting equal opportunities for men and women,” Ms Rice said.

“The Mary McConnel Career Boost Program looks to support women in their research endeavours and close the significant academic gender gap still prevalent across senior and leadership roles today.

“The benefit of this program is more than equal representation in the workplace – it is improved health outcomes for our children and young people,” she added.

DISSH CEO, Lucy Henry-Hicks is a champion for empowering women to lead lives filled with purpose and passion and echoed this sentiment.

“I have seen too many close friends and family give up thriving careers due to the challenges of balancing family and work,” Ms Henry-Hicks said.

“Our support of the Mary McConnel Career Boost Program will ensure women in research have the right support framework in place to face the complexities of their family and work.”

Through the multi-year commitment, DISSH will help the Children’s Hospital Foundation support and advance the careers of three female researchers each year for the next three years.

Women like Professor and Chair of Paediatric Nursing, Amanda Ullman.

Professor Amanda Ullman was a recipient of the Mary McConnel Career Boost Program grant in 2019. The program helped her transition to an independent researcher role.

“I was awarded the Children’s Hospital Foundation Mary McConnel Boost grant at a pivotal time in my clinical research career – when I was moving from being a newly qualified PhD to an independent researcher – and it was transformational,” Professor Ullman recalled.

“The scheme recognises and values the person within the system, and equally invests in my personal and professional growth.”

Honouring Mary McConnel

The grant program honours Mary McConnel – a pioneering woman who inspired Queenslanders to raise the bar in the care and treatment of sick children and young people.

In a time when woman did not have power to make contracts, own property or even vote, Mary and a group of her female peers identified the need to establish a dedicated paediatric hospital, right here in Queensland.

With the support of local businesses and this devoted committee of women, Queensland’s first paediatric hospital in Brisbane in 1878. In the first year alone. 105 children were admitted.

Applications for the 2024 grant round open today on International Women’s Day to female clinician researchers at Children’s Health Queensland and remain open until 17 April 2024.

For more information on this initiative or how to apply, head here.

Image: DISSH Head of People & Culture, Elizabeth Drewett, Children’s Hospital Foundation Director of Philanthropy & Government Relations, Nadine Moore and Professor Amanda Ullman (L – R)