Cicada Spotlight: Melina Georgousakis
It is important to shine a light on founders making change through revolutionary ideas or breakthrough technologies, but there is always a whole village often unseen, supporting these founders. One of these incredible fountains of support is Franklin Women - a community for women working across the health and medical ecosystem. We spoke to founder Melina Georgousakis about the inspirational stories coming out of Franklin Women, the greatest lessons of her career, and her hopes for Australia's women working in this sector.
"It is tempting to compare yourself with your peers in your career journey, particularly in very traditional roles like academic research or clinical roles where the trajectory is pre-defined. But if that pre-defined pathway is not right for you, go explore the other paths out there or create your own!"
Tell us about your vision for Franklin Women. What drove you to found Franklin Women?
Well, that is an easy answer to write but I am learning a bit trickier to implement! My vision for Franklin Women is for it to become a sustainable social enterprise that supports women working across the entire health and medical research ecosystem, around Australia!
I founded Franklin Women back when I was an early career health researcher myself. I loved my career and was passionate about making a difference in health but was missing the support I felt l needed to really thrive in the sector, particularly to overcome some of the unique barriers I was facing as a woman.
One day I had this crazy idea to create a supportive community of women working in diverse roles, organisations, and disciplines who share my passion to improve health so that we could champion, support, and sponsor each other. As they say, the rest is history!
Tell us one great story of a Franklin Women member that would inspire budding female entrepreneurs.
There is not a day of the week when I am not inspired and motivated by the women who are part of the Franklin Women community.
One who immediately springs to mind is the speaker from our last event of 2021, A/Prof Caroline Ford. Caroline leads the Gynaecological Cancer Research Group at UNSW, she is a fierce advocate for women’s health and has built innovative collaborations to fund her research, to advocate for women’s health (including designers Camilla and Marc leading to a whole fashion lined Ovaries Lets Talk About Them) and also to translate her lab-based researcher to new tests and technologies. To top it off she is the founder of the STEMMinist Bookclub on Twitter. What is not to love!
What have been the 3 greatest lessons you’ve learned through your career?
- The first is back myself. I have often sought out confirmation or validation from others on my ideas, or approaches. While consultation with others is always important, at the end of the day if don’t back yourself no one will.
- The second is to do scary things. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to do things outside my comfort zone since starting Franklin Women. Whether it be interviewing National Health and Medical Research Council CEO Anne Kelso, giving my TED Talk, or pitching new ideas to a potential funder or partner. Despite being wracked with nerves in the lead-up, once they are done I am proud that I challenged myself, and nearly always something great comes from the experience.
- Lastly, follow your own path. It is tempting to compare yourself with your peers in your career journey, particularly in very traditional roles like academic research or clinical roles where the trajectory is pre-defined. But if that pre-defined pathway is not right for you, go explore the other paths out there or create your own!
What are your hopes for Australia’s women in health and health research?It is really simple. I want to see women at all tables where decisions are being made about health – whether that be government, health care, industry, policy, research, data, or technologies. When women are represented at these tables it means we are succeeding at addressing barriers women face in their careers but also means decisions are being made that take into account and aim to improve women’s health outcomes
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to that you would recommend to the community?
- I am listening to the ABC Fierce Girls podcast because it is brilliant and also recently starred one of my good friends and colleague, A/Prof Meru Sheel.
- I love reading books but am one of those people who have a big pile of them next to their bedside table for months. I am nearly finished Lisa Wilkins biography It Wasn’t Meant to Be Like This that I got for Christmas last year!
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