The 11th of February marks the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day aimed at encouraging girls to get into STEM while also empowering and lifting up women who are already making their mark in the space. In honour of this day, we asked some of our top female scientists and technologists the question, Why is it important to get women and girls into STEM? Here are some of their answers...
Getting girls into STEM and keeping them inside the STEM pipeline as they go through school is key to the future economic success of Australia. STEM careers are exciting and well-paying, and shouldn’t just be for 50% of the population. Diversity and Innovation are 2 sides of the same coin. We are facing some huge problems across our planet and we need to make use of 100% of the talent to help solve them. My STEM-based qualifications have opened the world to me, and I hope that all children have the chance to spread their wings and reach their full potential.
- Dr Catherine Ball
Dr Catherine Ball is an author, founder, executive director, and ethics advocate working across global projects where emerging technologies meet humanitarian, education and environmental needs and is a leading authority in the non-military application of Drones. She is also champion of diversity and inclusion, believing that the world needs points of difference to truly innovate and curate the changes we want to see in the world.
STEM skills are a super power you can use to create anything you want. STEM offers so many opportunities, so we want women to join in the fun of finding solutions to problems, inventing new devices, or building a great environment for us all to live. With more STEM talent, we can create even more!
- Marita Cheng
Marita Cheng is the founder and CEO of aubot, which makes a telepresence robot, Teleport, for kids with cancer in hospital to attend school, people with a disability to attend work and to monitor and socialise with elderly people. She is was also the 2012 Young Australian of the Year and is a technology entrepreneur and is an advocate for women in technology.
We need to provide engaging pathways for girls to be inspired by the possibilities of creating our digital futures with STEM. In doing so, they will have the skills and knowledge required to solve our world's biggest challenges.
- Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen
Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen is a renowned advocate for technology innovation and diversity in STEM and the Founder and CEO of the Tech Girls Movement dedicated to giving girls the opportunity the opportunity to build their skills in STEM fields and celebrating women currently in science as rolemodels. She is also a futurist working to change existing structures in the technology industry to serve tommorrow's digital landscape.
Australian girls should be able to feel that they can work towards a career of their choice. For many, this means following their passion into dynamic and exciting avenues but for others, they may feel this is not an option. I feel so incredibly lucky to have followed my dreams into a rewarding and exciting career path. I want others to know this is achievable. Post-PhD, I feel it is now my role to be visible to young girls so they can see people like me in science and hopefully others within Technology, Engineering and Math fields. This visibility will hopefully encourage more girls into STEM to help shape the future of STEM industries in Australia.
- Dr Vanessa Pirotta
Dr Vanessa Pirotta is a marine scientist largely focused on the conservation of marine wildlife. Her pioneering whale research resulted in the development of the world’s first drones equipped with the means to collect biological health samples from whale blow which is now having applications across other disciplines. She is also an experienced science communicator dedicated to making science accessible for everyone.
How do we create, plan and invent a future that doesn’t exist yet? How will we solve the challenges of water or food shortages, energy crises and invent products to make our world a better place? To build the future and have innovative and creative solution challenges we need all citizens, especially women and girls, to have critical and creative thinking skills. But right now we only have 16% of STEM professionals are women. What better way to get important skills for the future, empower women in fantastic careers, but through engaging them in STEM education and careers.
- Felicity Furey