Women Finding Success podcast: Episode 0 – Dr Jacqui Romero

In this teaser introduction to this podcast series, UQ’s Dr Jacqui Romero and Dr Elena Danilova discuss the SAGE Athena SWAN gender equity project at UQ, and what to expect from this inspiring and enlightening series about women finding success in professional and academic roles in higher education and research institutions.

About this week’s guest

Dr Jacquiline Romero was born in Manila. She holds BS Applied Physics magna cum laude and MS Physics degrees from the University of the Philippines. She finished her PhD at the University of Glasgow, where she was a researcher for seven years. In 2015, she moved to Brisbane to join the Quantum Technology group at The University of Queensland. In 2016 she took up an ARC DECRA fellowship with the same group. In 2018, she won the Ruby Payne-Scott Medal of the Australian Institute of Physics for excellence in early-career research. In 2019, she won a L’Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Star Grant, one of fifteen awards worldwide. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Research Fellow at UQ, continuing her mission to extend quantum information using the shape of light.



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Episode transcript

Elena: Welcome to this Scholarly Soup podcast brought to you by The University of Queensland Library. In this podcast series, we’re going to meet with amazing women who found their success in academic and professional roles at The University of Queensland. They are resilient, smart, proactive, and, more importantly, they’re now working together to implement systemic changes that could make your career progression that little bit easier. If success breeds success, then listen to their stories and learn from the best. In the studio with us today we have Dr Jacqui Romero [laughs]. With a PhD from The University of Glasgow, Jacqui is an expert on high-dimensional entanglement of the spatial models of light. [Jacqui Romero: [laughs] Yeah, it’s a mouthful.] Just try and say that… that quickly! [Jacqui: I know!] Jacqui, you are an experimental quantum physicist and mother of three, and you have won numerous awards and recognitions. You are also actively involved in helping to create a gender-inclusive workspace at UQ. Could you tell us a little bit about your work with SAGE Athena SWAN initiative, and when have you got involved and why?

Jacqui: Okay, so I actually first heard of Athena SWAN back when I was in the UK as a PhD student. Because then there was an initiative to make the universities more inclusive, more gender-inclusive. And that was a big success there, I could really tell that there was a change from when they started the program up to... it’s still running up to now, and I could see there’s been good changes. So, Australia decided to adapt that here, and it’s called Science in Australia Gender Equity here – SAGE. And so, when UQ started to apply for the accreditation back in 2016, they, uh, I… I thought I’d like to be part of that, because I realised that I was actually quite special, having that science career that I want, and raising a young family as well. And so when UQ asked for volunteers to help us put up this application together, make the action plans that will eventually move the needle for women at UQ, I volunteered, because I want that to be… the.. I want every woman to have that good experience of having a career and having a successful family as well.

Elena: That’s amazing, that’s such a good reason. So, what is the group’s most ambitious priorities, you think?

Jacqui: I think the most ambitious, actually, is to increase the proportion of women professors. That’s a very quantitative metric, that ‘x’ years from now we will have this much women professors. But, more than that quantitative metric, I think it’s really having an environment where people would be excited to come to work, because it’s a supportive environment – I feel like I can actually succeed here, and that the people around me, they are interested in seeing me succeed. So, I’d like to see that cultural change, hopefully, and I think that’s very ambitious and quite hard to measure.

Elena: So this podcast series was actually initiated by SAGE Athena SWAN working group. Can you give us a little bit of information, can we give away something, uh, what guests are we expecting?

Jacqui: Oh, we have a very impressive list of guests, like, we have really successful researchers with very good record in their own fields, like, really world-class researchers in their own fields, we have, um, women from senior management, um, we have women from different cultural heritage, as well. So, it’s going to be a really good series, we’ll hear about all their experiences as they climb this ladder.

Elena: Fantastic, so who do you think will benefit from listening this podcast?

Jacqui: I think everyone will benefit from listening to this podcast. Of course, the title says Women Finding Success, so if you’re a woman looking for career advice this will be a podcast for you. But again, the objective of changing the culture is not just the job for women – it’s our job, so everyone will benefit, because everyone is part of the environment we live in.

Elena: So, when do we launch Women Finding Success?

Jacqui: We are launching in International Women’s Day, 8th of March. So… yeah, wait for it!

Elena: And we’ll be adding one episode a week, is that correct?

Jacqui: Yeah, yeah.

Elena: Well Jacqui, your excitement is really palpable, and I must say I’m super excited about this too. So to our listeners, please follow us on Spotify or SoundCloud to receive information about the newly rel… released episodes. Happy listening, and we’ll see you then!

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