In July 2017, I was honoured to be one of the 30 women of the Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program, announced by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO.
After some encouragement from my mentor, I applied for this program in May. Why?
I want to change the face of STEM. I want the next generation of scientists, technologists, and engineers to name a woman in STEM other than Marie Curie.
Growing up in Darwin, I never had a female STEM role model, and my STEM journey was inspired by academic success at high school, and the drive to solve complex problems at university. I was lucky that a lack of role models was not a barrier for my continuation in STEM at university, but I know this is not the case for many other young women, and it was something I began to acutely feel during my PhD: you can’t be what you can’t see.
I believe the Superstars in STEM program will be an impactful one, and is much needed. Visibility of role models and inclusive cultures in STEM are two critical factors in achieving gender equity in STEM. By presenting a diversity of authentic role models, through programs such as Superstars of STEM, we remove any doubt in the minds of young women as to whether they should pursue STEM.
However, we can’t, in good conscience, keep recruiting young women into STEM when they will be met with exclusion, and sometimes hostility, with no hope of overcoming the systemic biases they face at every turn. This is where we need complementary action, leveraging the power of visible and diverse role models, with inclusive STEM cultures. Through Fifty50, the student-led movement I founded with Em Campbell in 2015, we work to make the STEM pipeline from university to industry or academia inclusive and equitable, regardless of gender.
I am excited to be able to be involved in two essential and complementary movements to achieve gender equity in STEM, and I look forward to working with 29 other amazing women to change the face of STEM for a whole generation of young Australians – finally enabling young women to see all that they can be.