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Professor Nalini Joshi is acclaimed as one of Australia's top-most mathematicians. Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, Prof Joshi said, "I am the first female mathematician ever to be appointed as Professor at Australia’s oldest university. I was the third female mathematician ever elected to the Australian Academy of Science. But when I attend functions at the Academy (at the Shine Dome, wearing a black suit, with a name badge), I am often mistaken for one of the serving staff. And, I am not alone."
She lamented that women were often sidelined in the STEM economy - Science, Technology, Economics and Mathematics, and stated that "Australia is frozen in time, " with regards to gender equality.
"Of the professors of the mathematical sciences in Australia, only 9 per cent are women," she said about the male dominance in the Australian sciences. She further probed, "Why? How did we, as a modern, progressive society, let this happen? And what effect does this have on our scientific achievements as a nation?"
The University of Sydney Professor is a self confessed lover of Mathematics, who has previously tweeted, "Maths is in my heart". She fascinated by the subject since childhood , and worked passionately to find the solution to an 88 year old mathematical problem. The Eureka moment came when she found the solution, but what happened thereafter only confirmed the gender bias in the scientific world.
Her ground-breaking discovery revealed something else to her. "I discovered how judgments are made about people in the scientific research workplace," she said.
With a clear agenda to push for change in Australia, she said, "I am here to open your eyes to the reality I see, but this is not a sob story, it is a story of enlightenment. I want to show you that there is a measured pathway and what that pathway entails from each of us. I want to convince you that Australia has to pursue change because the benefits go beyond gender, beyond sexual identity, race and ethnicity and that change."
You can read the full transcript of Prof Joshi's speech here on the University of Sydney's website.