Mary Jane Gething on Differences Among Nations
  Mary Jane Gething     Biography    
Recorded: 16 Jan 2003

I don’t think that there’s any—I’d certainly fervently do not believe there’s a different mind, you know, a woman’s way of doing science and a man’s way of doing science. Although it’s interesting there are less women in this sort of blockbuster science of the human genome cloning project. I think that I don’t know why those decisions were made. I don’t find that sequence—the results of that sequencing are phenomenally interesting but the actual process of the sequencing I would have thought would be deadly boring and I don’t know. Perhaps that’s just me, nothing to do with being a woman.

But I did watch as women have come to fill an enormous role in science. Particularly in the United States. Australia that’s still not true. In fact I’ve come back to a department that has less women in it than was than when I was a student in it. Partly that is I think because sadly it’s still true that to have a good scientific career in Australia it’s quite important to go overseas still and be a postdoc or whatever overseas and I see that as matching the time when women are often getting into permanent relationships. And it’s almost a chance thing: if you get into a relationship with a—somebody who’s a European or an American, there’s a good chance that you will stay and spend your life in that country and not come back to Australia. I was lucky because Joe although he’s English he did his Ph.D. in Australia and has always loved the country dearly. And so was as keen as I was in the end to come back here.

But if that had not been the case then chances would have been that I would have stayed away all my life…sadly, but I would have. And so Liz Blackburn married an American and Australia is devastated that she hasn’t come back. And there are other women, Pam Stanley who is at the Einstein [College of Medicine]—many Australian women who have done wonderfully overseas but haven’t come back. Suzanne Corey of course is lucky that Jerry Adams was content to come and live in this wonderful country as well.

Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.

In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.

Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.