Since it was International Women't Day yesterday, I thought I should make a few comments on my own experience.
First and foremost: Thanks to all the women and men who in the past have stood up and shouted about equal rights. Thanks to these people, my own career progression has been a lot smoother than it might have been even just a few years before.
My own experience has been fairly oblivious to the gender imbalance until fairly recently thanks to my fantastic parents who encouraged me in whatever interested me (during school and my first attempt at university in aerospace engineering and then to a Science Degree which has led me to where I am now). I also had wonderful mentors at university, both women and men and having this support based on my work ethic and not my gender meant I 'grew up' (well whether I grew up at all is debatable but let's pretend for a moment) protected from doubting my ability based on my gender.
I worked in forestry after my degree as a minority (in age as well as gender) and it never crossed my mind thanks to the wonderful people I worked with there, many of who I'm still in contact with.
Now I don't want to suggest there aren't still problems in Australia, because I know there are. However my eye-opening occurred after I left Australia. Since then I've listened to some academics (who thankfully are a minority in my experience) carry on about how 'despite being surrounded by women scientists' they have still been successful in their careers. Or who have rolled their eyes when women professors are speaking. More commonly I've come across the other extreme which in my opinion is harder to deal with and that is unconscious bias. How do you slap people who say things like how they want to support the female new academics? Clearly they mean well, but what about supporting new academics and leave out the gender? These kind of comments are patronising and insulting. It's the same as saying 'because you're female you're not as good as your male counterparts so as a man I'll help you make it'.
This is a massive issue and I think we (men and women) need to point it out more when we notice it occurring.
Thankfully there are only a few people in my work sphere that are like this and the rest are supportive of everyone - including me, but not exclusively me.
My goal is to become a good mentor and leader. If that means female students or staff look up to me, that's great! But if it means both female and male students or staff look up to me then I'll have succeeded!
To borrow and adapt an X-men quote, in the past perhaps 'Female and proud' would have been necessary but I argue that in 2016 we should be 'human and proud!' or more specifically:
"Scientist and Proud!"