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International Women’s Day 2024: Frances Kay-Lambkin


Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin was a little girl when she first realised she wanted to become a leader and changemaker.  

Her father was an immunologist who worked at the university, and Frances used to attend work events with him.

Even then she knew she didn’t want to be in the audience. She wanted to be on stage, encouraging and making change… for everyone. 

This firebrand approach is what has made her a world leader in what she does; inventing innovative ways to support people experiencing mental health and alcohol/other drug use problems so that they don’t fall through the gaps or get left behind – levelling the playing field of life, so that everyone can have access to the tools and opportunities they need to live the life they envisage for themselves.  

Frances is a psychologist and a well-respected leader in both mental health and medical research.  

But, she knows better than anyone else that you can’t achieve these things alone, or without the support and facilitation of others around her.  

She also aware of the value of supporting the next generation of female leaders to overcome barriers they may face in contributing as leaders themselves, particularly in medical research.  

This is why HMRI has an ongoing Women in Medical Research Fellowship program where businesses and community members partner with HMRI to support a rising star research fellow.

Professor Nikola Bowden is one such research fellow.

She is supported by the Vanessa McGuigan HMRI Research Fellowship in Ovarian Cancer.

The benefits of a targeted scheme for women include a different kind of levelling of the playing field in medical research.

A fellowship like this provides the confidence, support, and credibility needed by women in medical research to develop themselves as authentic leaders in their own right, in their own way.

This is aligned with Frances’s key leadership value of authenticity, and the confidence to embrace her own femininity, flamboyance and ‘flamingo’ in the workplace… so that we can all achieve great things together.  

International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is recognised globally as a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. 

The first IWD celebrated over 100 years ago marked the ongoing struggle for a woman’s right to work, vote, hold public office and end gender discrimination.  

Today, in many parts of the world, women remain vulnerable without the rights, freedoms, and privileges we often take for granted here in Australia. 

The theme for 2024 is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. 

Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin and Professor Nikola Bowden are just two of the impressive women making a difference in their workplace through their contributions to the community. 

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