Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash and Assistant Minister for Science Zed Seselja this morning launched a nation-wide search for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the passion, talent and drive to become superstars.
The pair joined Science & Technology Australia (STA) and a group of extraordinary women in STEM at Melrose High School in the ACT for National Science Week this morning to meet promising science students and launch a recruitment campaign for 60 future Superstars of STEM.
STA’s world-leading Superstars of STEM program provides a diverse group of passionate and articulate women in all areas of STEM – and at all career stages – with opportunities to become visible public role models and help change the public stereotype of scientists.
Supported by the federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the program aims to encourage girls to study and pursue a career in STEM, and is working to address a significant gender gap: fewer than 20% of quotes about science in the media are attributed to women – a figure at odds with the 50/50 rate of graduates from Australian universities.
STA President, Professor Emma Johnston AO, said Superstars of STEM had achieved a significant level of coverage for the first women to go through the program.
“In the first 12 months, our inaugural 30 Superstars of STEM reached more than 11,000 high school students through face-to-face presentations at schools, and were featured in more than 600 prominent news stories across Australia,” Professor Johnston said.
“They also said their confidence in building social media profiles and speaking on public stages jumped significantly, and most of the participants have also had promotions, awards, and other exciting opportunities for career progression.”
She said the sector was working hard to change the gender stereotypes of STEM professionals.
“Before we started the program, we knew that when Australians thought of a scientist, they usually thought of a white-haired man in a lab coat,” Professor Johnston said.
“In the media and on stage, our Superstars of STEM are living examples of impressive and capable women who work on farms and in robotics labs, write code, develop cutting edge medicine, predict natural disasters, dig at archaeological sites, and so much more.”
Science & Technology Australia is now seeking 60 additional Superstars of STEM to participate in the program over two years, commencing in January 2019.
CEO of STA, Kylie Walker said the program had resonated with the STEM sector and the Australian community more broadly.
“It’s exciting to see more strong women scientists, technologists, mathematicians and engineers burst on to the public stage and share their important and inspiring work,” Ms Walker said.
“We welcome applications from a diverse range of capable, passionate and articulate women in STEM from all disciplines and at any stage of their career.”
Ms Walker said STA has a particular focus on encouraging women from under-represented groups to apply.
“We particularly welcome women working in underrepresented disciplines such as IT, geoscience, or maths, as well as members of minority groups such as Indigenous Australians, people with disability, people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and LGBQTI+ people,” she said.
“STA firmly believes that science and technology can only be strengthened by embracing a diversity of experiences and perspectives. We’re keen for the Superstars of STEM program to reflect those values.”
Applications open today, and close at midnight on 23 September 2018. Successful candidates will be named in December, and will commence as Superstars of STEM in January 2019.
Media contact: Dion Pretorius – firstname.lastname@example.org – 0418 281 777