You can now filter for women experts via Australia’s directory of research expertise: Expert Connect.
How do I find an echidna expert? Who is our brains trust on black holes? Who can answer my crystallography questions?
And how do I ensure a gender-balanced panel for my conference on echidnas, black-holes, or crystallography?
As of March 2019, Australia’s directory of research expertise—Expert Connect—can now be filtered to find female experts in any field. Powered by CSIRO, over 4,500 women have been profiled on Expert Connect so far.
‘We couldn’t find a suitable woman’: Why we need the FindHer filter
Female representation remains critically low in a range of fields, including the research sector. A common excuse for exclusively male line-ups is that suitable women couldn’t be found. This has led to a proliferation of initiatives encouraging women to list their details in various directories. These directories are then promoted to conference organisers, company boards, investor groups, the media and beyond.
Directories promote women and improve their chance of discovery; they also put the onus on women to create and update their profiles across multiple platforms. This can be time-consuming and repetitive. What’s more, it may or may not result in any extra opportunities (often the only people looking at these directories are people who already know they want to engage a woman).
We can be smarter about how we manage the public data that already exists. We want to meet the challenge of someone saying that “a suitable woman couldn’t be found.” In short, we need to put gender-based information in places where people are already looking.
Expert Connect is a public database enabling people to search for experts across any field of research. There is now a function to search by gender.
What is Expert Connect?
Designed to boost industry-researcher collaboration, Expert Connect is a publicly searchable database of Australia’s research expertise. Profiles for over 70,000 researchers from over 220 research organisations have been automatically created by drawing together data from IP Australia, The Conversation, ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID), ARC (Australian Research Council), NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council), and Web of Science. Anyone can search for a topic of interest (using simple, non-scientific language) and find the most relevant researchers to connect with.
Finding female experts, made easy
Launched for International Women’s Day 2019, Expert Connect can now be filtered to find female experts in any field of research. Currently, only 15 per cent of the Expert Connect data is included in the filter (with over 4,500 women profiled). It’s not a perfect process, but we’re continually working on improvements with the number of women profiled continuing to grow.
The Expert Connect model has advantages for both researchers and those looking to connect:
- Automatic profile creation and maintenance: With Expert Connect researchers do not need to manually create or update their profile: any new journal publications, patents, grants, or similar will automatically be added to the relevant profile. (There are still steps that researchers can take, if they want to boost where they appear in the search results, such as verifying their profile, and writing regularly for The Conversation).
- A single list of researchers: The more directories that exist, the more places you would have to look for experts, with each only listing a small subset of the total pool of researchers. Expert Connect brings together researchers from across Australia into a single searchable list.
- Open data: Expert Connect has been built on open data principles, so the complete list of researchers is available via API. This means that anyone can include the full directory of researchers (or a subset of it) on their own platforms, maximising the opportunities for it to be seen and used (with all the data drawn from the central, updated source).
Our researchers inspecting cotton plants in the glasshouse.
One small step for female-kind…
Australian research expertise is just the start. Building on the current dataset, Expert Connect is expanding to include researchers from around the globe. We also plan to expand the function of Expert Connect beyond connecting industry with researchers: we’d like to connect students seeking supervisors, for instance. We also want to highlight those experts keen to be speakers, non-executive directors and more.
Powered by CSIRO, Expert Connect has been developed in collaboration with over 60 partners (from across industry, research and government). The beta version of the platform was launched in June 2017 by then Assistant Minister Craig Laundy.
Our goal is that Expert Connect, along with the FindHer filter, can serve as a useful starting point for a collaborative effort to dramatically enhance opportunities for women. We want to see a more equitable research ecology, and we’d like to co-create that vision with collaborators from the research sector and beyond.
Get involved: connect with Expert Connect
To hear about the latest developments with the platform, and opportunities to get involved, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
And, as with all elements of the Expert Connect platform, we’re open to ideas and suggestions about how to improve the work we’re doing. We encourage any potential collaborators to get in touch, including those with:
- Data to contribute
- An interest using the Expert Connect API (to populate other directories, or to undertake research)
- Suggestions on additional functionality
- Additional use cases the platform could support
To get involved in any of the above, or to provide feedback/suggestions, please contact ExpertConnect[@]csiro.au.
A series of Frequently Asked Questions are also available on the website.