Farewell to the Women in Technology Board

Dr Alison Rice is completing her tenure on the Women in Technology Board and she wanted to share her parting thoughts and gratitude with everyone. Thanks for sharing Alison!

I am writing this because of Women in Technology (WiT). I knew about WiT from the WiTawards as I had written letters of recommendation for my PhD students and postdoctoral research scientists.

I was at a crossroads in my career in 2012 and reached out to Dr Carrie Hillyard, someone I had heard speak and whom I admired. Carrie took the time to speak to me and help me understand different opportunities. Carrie did this very simply by giving me people’s names and saying that she had suggested that I contact them.

Carrie also suggested I do the WiT Board Readiness program, which I did in 2012. As a scientist I found the program an illuminating experience and felt that the curtain had been lifted on the secret world of business. It gave me the confidence to know that I could actively and positively contribute to a board and make a difference to the organisation.

Participation in the WiT Board Readiness program led me to their events and their annual general meeting. Which in turn led to conversations that helped me re-frame my academic CV into business speak and a new career in Research Development, and later in Government. These kind conversations have stayed with me and have been a feature of my involvement with WiT.

“I am sad to leave but happy to go, knowing it is in good hands”

Interestingly, there is a nice symmetry in that Dr Carrie Hillyard, with Anne-Marie Birkill played a key role in bringing Women in Biotech to Women in IT in 2005 to become WiT that we know today and that I, until next week, am its Co-President of Life Sciences!

In 2015, Mathilde Desselle recommended to the WIT board that I be appointed as a Life Sciences Director. I joined the Board in 2015 and was appointed Co-President in 2017.

What did I bring to the WiT Board?

  • An understanding of the challenges facing women in science, particularly those working in research:
    • Short-term funding
    • Leaky pipeline, loss of role-models, lack of role models
    • The need for mentorship
    • The importance of being able to demonstrate your impact on the field
  • Connections into the medical research and university sector
  • The importance of data and evidence-based decisions
  • An understanding of how skills developed through a STEM education/PhD in science are transferable and can be invaluable to other industries

What am I proud of during my time on the WiT Board?

  • Being part of the conversation that developed the 3 pillars – Advance, Empower & Connect as WiT’s mission
  • Developing and articulating scoring criteria to judge the WiTawards
  • Suggesting that we analyse the annual survey to ensure we understood what our membership thought of WiT and what they wanted WiT to do.
  • Creating the Co-President role to share the load and better represent our membership
  • Being a mentor for the Australia Awards Mongolian Women’s Leadership program
  • Seeing the WiTawards gala dinner grow – indicative of the importance and relevance of the awards to the sector
  • Articulating the importance of WiT to the University sector.

What did I get out of being part of the WiT Board?

  • Being part of the WIT Board and leading an organisation that is valued by its members and sponsors.
  • Being part of an organisation that is ahead of the game in supporting women working in ICT and sciences develop their career and creates opportunities for women through its networks
  • Being part of developing WiT’s future
  • Being part of WiT as its profile and membership grows and flourishes
  • Meeting amazing people. I have met people in the ICT and entrepreneurial sectors that I would never have had the opportunity otherwise. Each connection is genuine & means that I end up knowing lots & lots of people, we enrich each others lives.
  • Privileged to be invited to attend and represent a well-respected organisation at high-level events. As a member of WiT I was offered opportunities that I would never have had in my day job! WiT opens doors – invitations to government receptions, access to ministers, chief scientists, chief entrepreneur, award events, dinners, etc
  • Having a leadership role in a well-respected organisation and being able to contribute to the conversation and be listened to.
  • Being able to pay it forward through mentoring and accessing my networks
  • Firsthand knowledge of the amazing women at all career stages working in sciences through the Witaward judging process.

I am very proud to have been a member of the WiT Board and it’s Co-President. I will continue to attend WiT events and follow its progress with pride.

I am very grateful to Carrie Hillyard for her kindness and mentorship. Ultimately, I have Carrie to thank for suggesting that the WIT Board readiness program would create some opportunities. It certainly did….. it resulted in me being appointed to the WiT Board and eventually as its Co-President and a fabulous network.

A wonderful journey, that I am sad to leave but happy to go, knowing it is in good hands.

About the author: Dr Alison Rice

Alison Rice 2I have a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Adelaide and a PhD in biological sciences from the University of Bordeaux II in France. I have worked as a senior research scientist leading research groups focused on new therapeutic options for the complications of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Medical Research Institutes in Sydney and Brisbane respectively.

In June 2012, I made the successful transition to a career in research development, incorporating research policy, research management and business development at Griffith University.

In my current role as a Principal Policy Officer in the Health Innovation, Investment and Research Office (HIIRO; Queensland Health), I have drawn on my experience as a research scientist and research development expert to bring content specific knowledge about research, researchers and the research sector to the Office.


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