Publication Details

Barrett, M., Dolničar, S., Kaidonis, M., Moerman, L., Randle, M. & Wood, C. (2005). Launching research: experiences with and achievements of a research mentoring platform for academic women. CD Proceedings of the Women in Research (WiR),Women Doing Research 2005 Conference. Gladstone: Central Queensland University.


Due to the continuing under-representation of women in academic positions of higher rank, the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Wollongong tested a mentoring platform for female researchers. This article reviews the first eight months of the platform’s lifetime and analyses experiences, achievements and failures in both a qualitative and quantitative manner. The quantitative analysis is based on a benchmark survey at the first research platform meeting and a second follow-up survey after the eight-month test period. The majority of female researchers participating in the Women in Commerce Research Platform (WICRP) were already interested in the research component of their job and had some research output. The platform failed to attract those women who are under pressure to produce research output but struggle to make their first steps into this direction. The results demonstrated that women face specific challenges in academia, in particular being confronted with assumptions/stereotypes, having to balance children and work and the lack senior female mentors. The evaluations of the research conditions in the workplace generally did not differ between senior and junior female researchers, although the more experienced female researchers felt that they had no female role models and that they had more access to inter-faculty collaborations across the university. The follow up survey identified time, gender, network and mentoring and support issues as specific issues for female academics. These results are put in the contest of prior work investigating the challenges female academics face and recommendations are made for other institutions who might be interested to establish a mentoring platform for female researchers.