Dr Jennifer Fan Gaskin, Research Fellow and Unit Lead at Centre for Eye Research Australia has been recognised as one of 60 Superstars of STEM – brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who want to step into the spotlight as experts in their fields.
The new Superstars reflect the strong diversity of women in STEM – including three Indigenous scientists and engineers, and a record number of Superstars from South Australia and the ACT.
This program upends the adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ by increasing the visibility of women in STEM
Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the program gives women in STEM the skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.
“It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM – especially at the senior leadership levels.”
“The Superstars of STEM program sets out to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician look like – these powerful role models show girls that STEM is for them.”
“We thank the Australian Government for its strong support of this important program, which is already having a profound impact.”
“Sustaining this type of program for the long-term is more important than ever amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews will today officially announce those chosen for Science & Technology Australia’s game-changing Superstars of STEM program in 2021.
“This program upends the adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ by increasing the visibility of women in STEM and encouraging girls and young women to aspire to an exciting STEM career,” Minister Andrews said.
“With STEM skills crucial to driving innovation and playing a significant role in preparing people for the jobs of the future, it’s essential that all Australians have the opportunity to participate in these fields.
“Gender equity in STEM is a key focus of the Morrison Government and we’re taking action to support women in STEM careers and provide diverse STEM role models to inspire the next generation.”
Supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Dr Fan Gaskin and her fellow Superstars of STEM will participate in the program in 2021 and 2022.
Dr Fan Gaskin is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Eye Research Australia, and glaucoma specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She obtained her medical degree (MBChB) with Distinction from the University of Auckland (2005), and her Doctorate of Medicine (MD) in Ophthalmology in 2014, for which she was awarded the prestigious Clinical Research Training Fellowship (Health Research Council NZ). In the same year, she completed her ophthalmology training with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.
Dr Fan Gaskin has said it was the look of devastation on a man’s face when he was told he would never see again that set her on the path to a career as an eye surgeon and researcher dedicated to saving sight.
As a medical student in Auckland in the early 2000s, Dr Fan Gaskin almost ruled out a career in ophthalmology because of the prevailing view among her peers that it was ‘almost impossible’ to get into the highly competitive field.
“Then I was in clinic one day when a man was told he would never see again,’’ she recalls. “The look on his and his wife’s face was of absolute devastation.
“It made me realise how important my sight was and just how awful it would be if I was told I would never see again. It made me determined to do everything in my power to stop other people from having to go through that experience.’’
More than a decade later, Dr Fan Gaskin leads ocular fibrosis research at CERA – investigating safe and effective ways to prevent scarring and vision loss after glaucoma surgery.
She is a glaucoma specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and an active member of the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) in roles encouraging professional development and the advancement of women.
She also advocates for the needs of patients on Glaucoma Australia’s ophthalmology committee and is a board member of the Australia and New Zealand Glaucoma Society.