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Students wow audience at CSIRO with their work on gender integration and modelling

Posted by: Clare Brandon

March 12, 2018

One of the exciting things about working on gender integration with the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP), is the opportunity to nurture young researchers both in Australia and abroad. Through the CSIRO Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships Program, CSIRO were fortunate to have Evie Packett and Toby Walmsley join the Basin Management Outcomes team in the Summer of 2017/2018 .

Evie majors in hydrology at the Australian National University (ANU), while Toby has a philosophy and mathematics major at the University of NSW.

Toby examined the challenges of mainstreaming gender into water resource management programs, and how scale and indicators serve as both opportunities and hindrance.

Evie explored how gender and social equity dimensions can be included in water modelling.

A case of advancing both theory and practice.

Toby and Evie presented their research findings through the CSIRO Land and Water Seminar series to participants from CSIRO, Australian Centre for Integrated Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the ANU.

A recording of the presentations is available

‘A Gender lens and the role of men in mainstreaming’, Toby Walmsley, transcript and slides

‘Mainstreaming and modelling: A systematic review of how gender analysis could inform hydrological modelling’, Evie Packett, transcript and slides

Toby kicked off the session with a discussion about how values and principles are critical in the success of gender mainstreaming, ending with a plea for gender to be ‘everybody’s business’, especially male scientists.

Evie followed with a demonstration of how gender and social dimensions can be included in water modelling. This included problem framing, technical modelling steps such as calibration and valuing management options.

Evie also discussed how modelling decisions to leave out gender considerations could affect a model’s output and posed the question: ‘If a model leaves out gender and the purpose is for human development, what does it mean for the advice that we provide for policy makers?’

In other words, principles and decisions underpin gender integration. They are at the heart of the SDIP work that we do at CSIRO.

The seminar was the conclusion of the students’ placement with CSIRO. The Basin Management Team have greatly enjoyed Evie and Toby’s enthusiasm and mature outlook in life. They have impressed us with hard work and intellectual courage, picking up complex theories and subject matters which can be confrontational. We will miss them being part of the team, though looking forward to continued collaboration – Evie to work with us further on gender and modelling – while Toby will work on advocacy work through the CSIRO Science in Australia Gender Equity Action Plan (SAGE) program.

L-R, Nicky Grigg, Evie Packett, Joyce Wu and Toby Walmsley at CSIRO Black Mountain Seminar Series
L-R, Nicky Grigg, Evie Packett, Joyce Wu and Toby Walmsley at CSIRO Black Mountain Seminar Series

Joyce Wu, ANU Research Fellow and Nicky Grigg, Senior Research Scientist, supervised Evie and Toby. Thanks go to Joyce and Nicky for their support providing the students with gender and development theories, critical masculinities theories, scientific and modelling advice and inputs. Sue Cuddy also provided science advice and support for integrating gender into modelling and played an important role in navigating the CSIRO Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Program. Other staff from the Basin Management Outcomes program also provided time and advice to Toby and Evie.

This work is part of a portfolio of investments supported by the Australian Government addressing the regional challenges of water, food and energy security in South Asia.

The SDIP Phase 2 aims to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to:

  • strengthen practices for regional cooperation
  • generate and use critical new knowledge to enhance regional cooperation
  • improve the regional enabling environment for private sctor engagement.

Find out more about SDIP in CSIRO by visiting our website

Access the SDIP knowledge products

Find more information about international water research at CSIRO