8 March 2022


Dr Kayleen Manwaring is a Senior Research Fellow at the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law & Innovation, in the Faculty of Law and Justice. 

Her research concentrates on the intersection of sociotechnical change and private and commercial law, and she also teaches and researches in the areas of contract law, corporations law, online content regulation and intellectual property. 

As a woman in STEM within the realm of IP, she kindly took time to answer some questions about her experiences for International Women’s Day (IWD). 

The theme for IWD this year is Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, recognising the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are working to change the climate of gender equality and build a sustainable future. 

What does that theme mean to you as a woman working and researching in a STEM field?

It’s a recognition that the era of the ‘move fast and break things’ mentality is on its way out, even though some diehard techbros are still fighting hard to keep the status quo. We’re seeing important feminist principles like ‘care and connection’ infiltrating more technological fields, like ecodesign, which is directed at sustainability and preservation.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in STEM?

So often being the only woman in a room full of men talking about technology. You do feel like you stand out a bit, which can be both good and bad. You have to really be confident to get heard, or at least pretend to be!

What would you say to young women wanting to pursue a career in STEM field? Biggest misconception about women working in STEM? 

Just do it. It’s incredibly fascinating work, and you get to help create things, good and useful things – who doesn’t want to do that? I don’t want to downplay the bad experiences some women and non-binary people have had, but I’ve been lucky enough to avoid most of those. In fact, I’ve always loved working with engineers – they have super-logical minds so they’re easy to follow once you are familiar with the terminology.

What drew you towards researching IP Law, and what fascinates you most about IP Law?

I’ve always loved new technologies, particularly in IT. So, I’m fascinated by any area of IP where it intersects with that:  such as software patents, or copyright issues in an Internet context.

What are you working on at the moment? 

From an IP perspective, I’ve just started collaborating with human geographers who are looking at the right to repair, particularly in the context of the recent Productivity Commission report. I came to right to repair through my work on Internet-connected objects, and the use of IP rights, particularly software licences, by tractor manufacturers to try to stop farmers repairing their own equipment. But my collaborators are looking at other issues such as the encouragement of greentech and the problems of solar waste, so I’ve become really interested in the sustainability side as well.