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Professor Shari Forbes (second from left), director of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research, and team. (Photo: Anna Zhu, Courtesy of the University of Technology Sydney)

Some attribute it to the "CSI effect" – the portrayal of intelligent women sampling bodily fluids in stilettos – that attracts so many women to forensics. Others believe it's the work of writers like Patricia Cornwell and Cathy Reichs, while those in the industry shrug their shoulders and conclude that women are simply in the job because they like it. Regardless, the so-called fairer sex dominates the field of forensics

In the US, 80 per cent of students in forensic courses are female. Shari Forbes, director of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) – known as Australia's first "body farm", where decomposition is studied – says the figure at the University of Technology Sydney is similar. And at NSW Health Pathology the workplace is also about 80 per cent female.

In most other science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields women are noticeably fewer, but there's something about forensics that draws female students in. One US study found that the work enables women "to do something different every day, [that] has a direct application on peoples' lives, and can bring justice to a victim". Three women who deal with the gruesome sides of the human condition explain why they love their work.

Read more.

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