Psychologist sets example for young women

Griffith University social psychologist Dr Megan Oaten is about to embark on an Antarctic adventure of a lifetime, one she hopes will inspire other women to become leaders in science research.

Dr Megan Oaten at the Natural History Museum, UK.
Dr Megan Oaten at the Natural History Museum, UK.

Selected to take part in Homeward Bound, an all-female research expedition to Antarctica, Dr Oaten will join 79 women on the 12-month leadership program.

Dr Oaten is passionate about helping young women and showing them that anything is possible.

A high school dropout from NSW, Dr Oaten started her working life as a hairdresser. At the age of 27, she decided to head to Macquarie University to study Psychology and had no idea if she would succeed.

“It was a very nerve-racking thing to do,’’ she recalls.But she persevered and graduated with a PhD in Social Psychology

Now she works in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus where she conducts research on “how our brain operates like a sickness detection machine, telling us who to avoid in order to maintain good health”.

“I wanted to do this (expedition) because I am passionate about sharing my story, being a visible role model to young women, showing that your past does not determine your future,” she says.

“That’s what I love about Homeward Bound, it provides a platform to engage with young women and encourage them towards a career in STEM.”

Dr Oaten, a mother of two who lives near Byron Bay, conducts school outreach through CSIRO’s Science in Schools Program.

With many women falling away from an academic career path during the post-doctoral phase, Dr Oaten said she wanted to be part of the push to retain women in science.

The expedition leaves on February 14.

In 2016, Homeward Bound gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a 12-month program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices.