An ambitious new program to elevate the profiles of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has launched today, and applications are now open.
An Australian first, Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program will train and support 30 female STEM professionals to become prominent role models for young women and girls. They will develop the skills to share their work with the public via social media, public speaking, and as spokespeople in the media.
Participants will also be given the opportunity to speak with schools, connect with mentors, and attend events promoting gender equity in science and technology around Australia.
The program aims to smash existing gender stereotypes, says Kylie Walker, CEO of Science & Technology Australia, and to make a career in STEM a more attractive and achievable option for young Australian women and girls.
“We are excited and energised by the number of women who choose careers in science and technology, but there is still imbalance,” Ms Walker said.
“Girls pick up an interest in science in primary school but this drops off around the age of 15,” she said.
“One of the main reasons this happens is a lack of publicly visible female role models in science, technology, engineering and maths. As the saying goes: if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. That’s why we’re working through Superstars of STEM to improve the visibility of brilliant Australian women scientists and technologists.”
In the USA, studies have shown that even though the STEM workforce is around 40% female, women only make up a small portion of scientists in the media.
Program Ambassador and renowned astronomer, Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, said she was excited to see a program like this started in Australia.
Awarded the Eureka Prize for Public Understanding of Australian Science Research last year for her work on the stage and screen, she says she understands the value in having scientists who know how to communicate their work.
“The small number of female role models in science remains an issue in Australia”, Dr Harvey-Smith said.
“I know the pathway to my career in science would have been a little easier if there had been more women visible in the sector.”
“This program will take already brilliant scientists and give them the skills and confidence to go out into the world and talk about their research and the positive impacts it has on our nation.”
“I am thrilled to be playing a part in rolling out this program, and urge women of all ages, backgrounds, disciplines and career stages to apply!”
Superstars of STEM is supported through the Australian Government’s Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program, and will be delivered in partnership with the Australian Science Media Centre and Women in STEMM Australia.
More information on the program can be found at https://scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au/superstars
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