Celebrating AUT's women academics

08 Mar, 2021
Celebrating AUTs women academics
L to R: Professor Denise Wilson, Dr Kate Palmer du Preez, Ayan Said, Associate Professor Katherine Ravenswood, Dr Radilaite Cammock, Professor Gail Pacheco, Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, Dr Mahsa Moheghegh, Dr Ayesha Scott, Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies and Professor Nicola Kayes.

​Today is International Women's Day, a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day highlights how far we've come towards gender equality and how much further we have to go.

The theme of this year is #choosetochallenge – in which a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.  This year, the United Nations is also using International Women's Day to highlight the challenges brought on by Covid-19 and the need for more women in leadership in combatting the pandemic.

Over the past year, women academics at AUT have published research which has influenced and challenged public policy decision-making, enhanced health outcomes, and highlighted the need to improve the lives of women in our society.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kath McPherson says, "while there is still work to do to achieve a gender equality, AUT women are leading and contributing to research here in Aotearoa and internationally and that matters and is making a real difference."

Below is a sample of the research from AUT women academics in the past year:

Professor Denise Wilson

Professor in Māori Health, an Associate Dean Māori Advancement and Co-Director of AUT Taupua Waiora Māori Research Centre

Advocating for the improvement of health and social outcomes for whānau Māori has been a feature of Professor Denise Wilson's career. Her research focuses on Māori/indigenous family violence, health and health service engagement, cultural responsiveness, and workforce development.

Last year, Professor Wilson led the underlying study and was the lead author of the report 'E Tū Wāhine, E Tū Whānau: Wāhine Māori keeping safe in unsafe relationships', which investigated the processes and strategies that Māori women use to keep safe within unsafe partner relationships. Professor Wilson's research found that agencies and services designed to aid wāhine Māori in unsafe relationships often contribute to their entrapment. Professor Wilson was also involved in the development of a short and simple animation with Te Ara Poutama staff to promote being safe to whānau.

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Dr Katie Palmer du Preez

Senior Research Fellow within the AUT Gambling and Addictions Research Centre (GARC)

In 2020, Dr Palmer du Preez's research, funded by the Ministry of Health, revealed valuable insights into gambling related harm for women. Her research found gendered roles and unrealistic expectations contribute to gambling related harm for women and that gambling venues often provide convenient and safe spaces, and relief from family responsibilities, for women with a lack of social support.  Dr Palmer du Preez teaches and supervises students in addiction, women's health, LGBTIQ++ wellbeing, mixed methods, critical qualitative, feminist and post structural inquiry.

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AUT PhD student Ayan Said

Ayan was a driving force behind the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Crimes Amendment Bill, passed last year, which ensures that all forms of female circumcision are illegal in New Zealand.  As the country's first cross-party multi-members' bill, the historic occasion was made all the more remarkable by four female members of parliament putting aside party allegiances to join forces on a global women's issue. Ayan completed a Master of Public Health at AUT in 2015. Her thesis, which captures the voices of women living with FGM in Auckland, considered culturally appropriate approaches to end female circumcision and ways the health sector could better partner with affected communities.

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Dr Katherine Ravenswood

Associate Professor of Employment Relations

Dr Ravenswood's research focuses on the examination of power, gender and diversity in the employment relationship. Her research into the role of gender in the employee voice in residential aged care in New Zealand resulted in an invitation to appear last year as an expert witness on the aged-care workforce and employment relations for the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

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Dr Radilaite Cammock

Lecturer in Public Health

Dr Cammock received Health Research funding for three years to examine and develop culturally responsive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education for Pacific Youth in New Zealand. The study will be based on the experiences of Pacific youth, community and sexual and reproductive health educators in a high school in South Auckland. The study responds to a need to address poor SRH outcomes and changing sexual and reproductive health socio-cultural norms and expectations experienced by Pacific youth.  Dr Cammock is part of AUT's Māori and Pacific Early Career Academic programme within the school of Public Health & Psychosocial Studies.  Her research has investigated the reproduction health of women in Fiji.

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Professor Gail Pacheco

Professor of Economics and Director of the NZ Work Research Institute / Commissioner on the Productivity Commission

Professor Pacheco is an applied econometrician who has undertaken large scale research projects for a number of large government departments and uses her research to focus on utilising linked administrative data to inform policy debate including the gender pay gap. Last year, Professor Pacheco contributed to research and commentary on areas such as the impact of 20 hours free early childhood education on mothers' labour force participation and earnings and the mobility of low paid workers.  She recently released a topical report which shone a light on the ethnic differences and parents' experience of child healthcare services and what influence the experience had on parents' decisions to immunise their children.

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Professor Rhema Vaithianathan

Professor Rhema Vaithianathan heads AUT's Centre for Social Data Analytics (CSDA) which is helping agencies use data to find answers and make better decisions about how to support the most vulnerable people in their communities. The centre's research team of data scientists, economists and software engineers builds computational models and assessment tools to process the vast quantities of data available to government and social service agencies. The data helps agencies to better understand their own practices and to direct services to those at highest risk for adverse outcomes.

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Dr Mahsa Moheghegh

Director of Women in Technology, Senior Lecturer, Board member of NZ Tech and Variety NZ

Dr Moheghegh is a Computer Engineer, an expert in AI subject matter and a strong advocate for diversity in tech.  She says technology is a pervasive part of our lives, but not enough girls are choosing to study STEM topics. For the last five years, Dr Mohaghegh has spearheaded Computer Science for High School (CS4HS), a two-day workshop for primary and high school educators funded through the Google Education Fund. She is the founder and director of She#, a women's networking and learning group aimed at supporting women and bridging the gender gap in technology. She says getting girls and women into STEM careers is crucial for the future.

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Dr Ayesha Scott

Dr Ayesha Scott (Department of Finance) has been awarded an AUT Health Futures development grant to support her research project, "My money, your money…our money? Building a toolkit for Healthy Financial Relationships". The work is in partnership with Good Shepherd NZ, a charitable non- government organisation established to address the critical, contemporary issues facing women, girls and families.

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Anthropologist Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies

Associate Professor Davies leads the NZ arm of research looking at New Zealanders' experience of lockdown. The research has found that Government policy for future lockdowns needs to take into account the different types of social and care arrangements that people have. The research group also found that that there should be limited provision for people to leave distressing bubbles and to meet safely outdoors. Government communications could also be more proactive for those with care arrangements that span households.

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Professor Nicola Kayes

Director of the Centre for Person Centred Design, Associate Dean Research

Professor Kayes' research focuses on applying what we know in health psychology to inform the way we work in rehabilitation.  Last year, Professor Kayes led the related study and co-design process behind Grey Matters, a unique and interactive website designed with and for people experiencing changes to their memory and thinking. The website also features an animated video, 'What is mild cognitive impairment?', developed by AUT design students.

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