Gender equality and the medical research institute workforce

Gender equality and the medical research institute workforce



Download the 2020 AAMRI GEDI survey report.

Download the AAMRI GEDI Strategy and Action Plan.


In 2019, the total workforce of AAMRI’s 57 members combined was 19,763 staff and students (16,622 FTE).

Medical research institutes (MRIs) bring together researchers, corporate leadership and professional support staff into a diverse and exciting workplace committed to improving human health (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – The MRI workforce in 2019.


The medical research institute workforce is more than 60% women, in the research workforce and corporate and professional support services (Figure 2).

AAMRI conducted a study of gender balance in the MRI workforce for the first time in 2018 [1]. This analysis showed that while the MRI workforce was more than 60% women, about 60% of senior positions were held by men.

Figure 2 – Gender balance in the MRI workforce in 2019 [2].


Gender inequality has been recognised widely throughout the STEM workforce where women are often underrepresented in senior positions.

In 2019, 59% of senior positions were held by men, despite a female dominated workforce and only one quarter of medical research institute Directors are women (Figure 3). However, representation of women in some senior positions is improving. Five of the eight AAMRI Board Directors are women, about half of MRI executive staff and half of senior researchers are women.

Figure 3 – Gender breakdown at MRIs in 2019, by role and seniority [2].


The AAMRI Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee is working to better retain, promote and attract women in medical research.

They are working to advocate for change and provide guidance on best practice for medical research institutes, building on the work of other experts who are also working towards equality in STEMM.


Many MRIs have started addressing inequality in their organisations.

While the MRI sector has been systematically addressing gender inequality through initiatives such as Athena SWAN accreditation (SAGE [3]), each institute is at a different place on their diversity and inclusion journey.

The AAMRI GEDI Committee recently surveyed AAMRI’s members to better understand what MRIs are already doing to address gender inequality, diversity and inclusion in medical research. A snapshot of the MRI sector’s gender equity, diversity and inclusion activities are summarised in the 2021 AAMRI GEDI Survey Report.

Download the 2020 AAMRI GEDI survey report.


AAMRI has a strategy and action plan for tackling gender inequality in the medical research institute sector.

AAMRI’s vision for gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the medical research sector and how to get there is captured in AAMRI’s five-year GEDI Strategy and Action Plan for advancing gender equality in the health and medical research sector.

Download the AAMRI GEDI Strategy and Action Plan.


Read more about the Committee’s activities, purpose and Terms of Reference here.



FTE = full time equivalents; STEMM = science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine

[1] AAMRI (2018) Australia’s Medical Research Institute Snapshot.

[2] AAMRI (2020) Australian medical research institutes – The AAMRI Report 2020.

[3] Science in Australia Gender Equity (2020), What SAGE does.