Franklin Carers Scholarship supports academics with scholarship
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship supports academics with ECEC funding

Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship supports academics with ECEC funding

by Freya Lucas

October 13, 2023

Six researchers have been awarded an innovative ‘carers scholarship’ to support them with balancing the needs of caring for a family while progressing in their health research careers. 


This year’s recipients are researching diverse health areas including mental health, autism and medical technologies, illustrating the important contributions these women make to the health of our communities.


The six recipients of the 2023 Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship are:


  • Dr Bao Nguyen, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Rebecca Poulsen, Macquarie University
  • Dr Claire Wilkinson, University of New South Wales (pictured) 
  • Dr Kate Filia, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Yufeng Zhao, University of Wollongong
  • Dr Sarah Scealy, University of Sydney.


Funded by grassroots social enterprise Franklin Women, the scholarships aim to help academics to overcome the barriers associated with unpaid caring responsibilities so they can take advantage of career opportunities.


The scholarship was introduced by Franklin Women in response to the loss of talented women in scientific research in Australia, and acknowledges the impact that unpaid caring responsibilities for young children or elderly family members has on their ability to embrace and fully participate in professional opportunities.


This is the eighth year that Franklin Women has offered the award, something which the group says “highlights that not much has changed with respect to professional barriers faced by primary carers forging careers in science.”


“We see many women entering the healthcare and health research workforce but unfortunately we don’t do a great job of retaining them with a loss of these highly skilled women over the course of their careers,” said Dr Melina Georgousakis, founder of Franklin Women.


“One of the contributors to this is that women still assume a large proportion of unpaid caring responsibilities which has a big impact on their ability to take part in career opportunities. It’s not spoken about enough.”


Dr Nguyen is a clinician-scientist, developing an intracranial pressure measuring device at the University of Melbourne. She is also the primary carer of two young children as well as her ill father.


She is using her scholarship funding to cover additional days of early childhood education and care for her children so that she can attend a health technology accelerator workshop focused on bringing her device to market.


‘“I am grateful for this support from Franklin Women at such a critical career pivot for me. The Carer’s Scholarship will boost my ability to commit to the medtech development and commercialisation pathway,” she said.


Dr Wilkinson, a mid-career leader in research to advise policies relating to the control of alcohol and drug use, is a sole parent of her 11-month-old son, and will also use the funds for additional days of childcare, so she can undertake the intensive work required to submit a highly competitive government grant to secure the future of her research. 


“It’s wonderful to have a scholarship that can be used for practical support, such as childcare (sic.) and meals. As a solo parent, whose family lives interstate, the scholarship is enabling me to apply for a research grant to support my research into the future.”


In 2024, the Franklin Women Carer’s Scholarship will be awarded twice, with the hope of enabling a greater number of candidates to participate fully in valuable opportunities necessary for their career progression.


Applications for the first scholarship round are now open and Franklin Women encourages all health and medical researchers who are also primary caregivers to apply.


For further information, including eligibility criteria and key dates, please see here


Franklin Women is Australia’s only professional community dedicated to supporting the careers of women working across the health and medical research ecosystem. Learn more and become a member here

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