Science & Technology Australia President Professor Emma Johnston AO and CEO Kylie Walker shared lessons and success stories of the peak body’s work in advocacy with an international audience at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this week.
Over two sessions, STA shared impacts of its 20-year-old Science meets Parliament model, and spoke of newer programs, such as the Parliamentary Friends of Science and STEM Ambassadors, designed to foster and develop professional connections between scientists and technologists and federal elected representatives.
They were joined in one session by Captain Matt MacTaggart from the Royal Military College, Canada, who was one of the co-convenors of the inaugural Science meets Parliament Canada. Supported by STA, this event was held for the first time 2018 in conjunction with the Canadian Science Policy Conference.
Ms Walker and Professor Johnston outlined the structure and impacts of Science meets Parliament, through which STA has provide professional development and political and policy connections for more than 4000 scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians from all sectors – and shared early findings from the new survey of past delegates. Professor Johnston also spoke of her personal journey from being an early-career attendee at the first Science meets Parliament, through to becoming a federal advocate for the sector as Vice President, President-Elect and now President of STA.
Professor Johnston said the AAAS meeting, held in Washington, DC, had provided a valuable opportunity to connect with science advocacy leadership from around the world.
“We’ve initiated dialogue with leaders in science policy and advocacy from the United States, the European Commission, UNESCO, the UK, Japan, Korea, and others,” Professor Johnston said.
“There were many hot topics of discussion including Open Access publishing, Artificial Intelligence, Human Genome Editing, Climate Change and National Emergencies. STA will build our relationships to share and learn from one another’s policies and practices, and to strengthen the international networks we maintain on behalf of our 77 member organisations and the STEM professionals they represent or employ.”
Ms Walker said the meeting’s sessions and informal discussions had also highlighted the global movement in the STEM community towards evidence-based local and national programs and approaches to improve equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the sector.
“Meeting with and learning from organisations such as the Association for Women in Science and the Organisation of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals has informed the work STA is doing to support our members and our sector to become more diverse and inclusive,” she said.
The 20th Anniversary Science meets Parliament event will be held from 13-14 August 2019 in Canberra. Registrations will open in coming weeks.
Past delegates from all years are strongly encouraged to take our survey – please help STA define our impacts and learn where we can improve our work to support STEM professionals to become stronger advocates for their work, and for evidence in policy- and decision-making.