A Radical New Website Is Putting the Spotlight on Australian Female STEM Leaders
Science has a gender equity issue.
For too long, scientists have been frustrated over the lack of acceptance of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as a lack of representation of female scientists and academics on global conference panels and in the media.
In an attempt to shift this narrative, the Australian Academy of Science has developed STEM Women, an online directory of Australian female STEM academics. The directory works to further female representation in STEM by displaying the range of scientific talent in Australia and offering these women chances to advance their professions.
John Shine, president of the academy, said it was vital female STEM academics are fairly represented.
"When women from diverse STEM careers speak in the media, at public events, and in boardrooms and classrooms, they can inspire girls and women to follow in their footsteps,” he announced in a statement. “It’s good for gender equity, science communication, and it’s good for the next generation of would-be scientists coming up through the ranks.”
1000 STEM Women profiles are now live!— Australian Academy of Science (@Science_Academy) August 5, 2019
Thank you to all those who have shared or registered for our new #AusWomenInSTEM database—if you haven't already, now is the time to register your profile!
Head to https://t.co/AqVanAA2l3#WomenInSTEMpic.twitter.com/vo4Kzrfteh
Women STEM academics — including transgender, non-binary, and intersex people — can create a platform profile.
A second tab is provided for anybody looking for speakers for events or media, seeking a STEM mentor, or hoping to nominate women academics for awards. Female STEM experts can be found and contacted directly based on their expertise, location, or opportunity type.
According to a 2018 study, women make up around 41% of Australia’s STEM workforce.
In May, a study entitled “Filtered Out, but Not by Skill” revealed some insight into why women are less likely to work across these fields. Even when female high school math students have abilities equal to or exceeding their male counterparts, the study showed they still opt out of studying STEM at higher levels.
The study’s researchers concluded that a lack of confidence, societal norms, and school environments failing to encourage women to study STEM could be to blame. According to the researchers, these factors negatively affect scientific progress.
"STEM majors are more likely to be losing mathematically gifted women than mathematically gifted men,” they wrote.
Astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith told STEM Women young girls must have their math and science interests fostered early and have role models to look up to. She said only then will an even stronger generation of female scientists be achieved.
Harvey-Smith added that the exceptional scientific growth currently witnessed by Australia is due to achievements from STEM professionals “of all genders and backgrounds.”
"Let’s tell those stories in full, without prejudice — to inspire all Australians,” she said.