Sianan Healy

I am a Melbourne-born woman of settler Australian, settler Aotearoa-New Zealand and Italian descent. I first came to La Trobe in 2012 to work as a research assistant for the historian Tracey Banivanua Mar, who I had met while we were completing our PhDs at Melbourne University. Tracey, who passed away in 2017 and who is a much-missed member of the history program, was an inspiring historian and colleague. I am now privileged to hold a fellowship established by the University in her name, and I do my best to live up to her passion for and dedication to teaching and learning.

The Tracey Banivanua Mar Fellowship support researchers with major care giving responsibilities to realise their potential. With my fellowship I am undertaking a history of women’s experiences of infertility in Australia, and I am interviewing women to include their voices in the story. This project is important to me because it sheds light on the ways that infertility can affect a person’s emotional wellbeing, their relationships, their career and their sense of belonging. In the same way that the TBM Fellowship helps to make less invisible the impact of caring responsibilities on a career, I hope to demonstrate the impact of infertility.

I can also point to personal examples, as my career was interrupted through caring for my daughter, as well as through the four years of fertility treatment and miscarriages I experienced before I was lucky enough to have her. Throughout those years I held down multiple short-term research support and lecturing and tutoring contracts, juggling constant medical appointments and procedures with paid work while also trying to fit in my own research and apply for grants. I was working for senior academic women who knew what I was going through and who provided flexibility and support, and if it was not for them I doubt I would be in this position. So many women do not have this support, and part of my mission while a TBM Fellow is to change that experience.