Prof Calder has held positions as a senior executive in health policy and administration in both State and Commonwealth Departments of Health and was head of the Office for the Status of Women in the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2000 to 2003. She was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2015 Australia Day Honours. She received the honour for “significant service to public administration, particularly in the areas of mental health and ageing, through academic roles, and to the community.” Prof Calder is a sociologist and began her career as a journalist with The Age.