Tag Archives: agile workers

combining skills

Women in STEM: the revolution ahead

On September 8, 70 days after the end of the financial year, Australia marked equal pay day. The time gap is significant as it marks the average additional time it takes for women to work to get the same wages as men.

Optimistically, we’d think this day should slowly move back towards June 30. And there are many reasons for optimism, as our panel of thought leaders point out in our online roundtable of industry, research and government leaders.

Yet celebrating a lessening in inequity is a feel-good exercise we cannot afford to over-indulge in.

While we mark achievements towards improving pipelines to leadership roles, work to increase enrolments of girls in STEM subjects at schools and reverse discrimination at many levels of decision making and representation, the reality is that many of these issues are only just being recognised. Many more are in dire need of being addressed more aggressively.

Direct discrimination against women and girls is something I hear about from mentors, friends and colleagues. It is prevalent and wide-reaching. There is much more we can do to address issues of diversity across STEM areas.

Enrolments of women in STEM degrees vary from 16% in computer science and engineering to 45% in science and 56% in medicine. These figures reinforce that we are teaching the next generation with the vestiges of an education system developed largely by men and for boys. There is a unique opportunity to change this.

Interdisciplinary skills are key to innovation. Millennials today will change career paths more frequently; digital technologies will disrupt traditional career areas. By communicating that STEM skills are an essential foundation that can be combined with your interest, goals or another field, we can directly tap into the next generation. We can prepare them to be agile workers across careers, and bring to the table their skills in STEM along with experiences in business, corporates, art, law and other areas. In this utopian future, career breaks are opportunities to learn and to demonstrate skills in new areas. Part-time work isn’t seen as ‘leaning out’.

We have an opportunity to redefine education in STEM subjects, to improve employability for our graduates, to create stronger, clearer paths to leadership roles, and to redefine why and how we study STEM subjects right from early primary through to tertiary levels.

By combining STEM with X, we are opening up the field to the careers that haven’t been invented yet. As career areas shift, we have the opportunity to unleash a vast trained workforce skilled to adapt, to transition across fields, to work flexibly and remotely.

We need to push this STEM + X agenda right to early education, promoting the study of different fields together, and creating an early understanding of the different needs that different areas require.

This is what drives me to communicate science and STEM through publications such as Careers with Science, Engineering and Code. We want to convey that there are exciting career pathways through studying STEM. But we don’t know what those pathways are – that’s up to them.

Just think how many app developers there were ten year ago – how many UX designers. In 10 or even five years, we can’t predict what the rapidly growing career areas will be. But we can create a STEM aware section of the population and by doing so now, we can ensure that the next generation has an edge in creating and redefining the careers of the future.

Heather Catchpole

Founder and Managing Director, Refraction Media

Read next: CEO of Science and Technology Australia, Kylie Walker, smashes all of the stereotypes in her campaign to celebrate Women in STEM.

People and careers: Meet women who’ve paved brilliant careers in STEM here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com.

Spread the word: Help Australian women achieve successful careers in STEM! Share this piece on women combining skills in STEM using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Graduate Futures Thought Leadership Series here.

graduate employment

Graduate employment in a changing world

How do you best set yourself up to get your dream job in a competitive marketplace? What are the skills that you need to succeed in graduate employment, and how can you determine these skills when technology, the global economy and the make-up of the skilled workforce are rapidly changing?

As the government stands poised on a knife’s edge, Science Meets Business set out to determine the top ways skilled workers can position themselves in today’s uncertain times, and the best future prospects for graduate employment. Our panel of thought leaders considered the importance of the skills that aren’t taught in our universities – how to network, pitch yourself, stay a specialist but garner the ability to work across a broad range of disciplines, with people from a variety of fields.

Getting out of your comfort zone

Scientists becoming marketers, industry business developers that can speak to research – different timelines, different prerogatives, different values, varied benchmarks of success, and the struggle towards a gender equitable workforce. These are just of a few of the road bumps on the path towards a new economy based on skills and services, ideas and inventions, rather than resources.

Job requiring skills in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) grew at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s great news.

But ensuring our STEMM-skilled workforce has the best opportunities for graduate employment requires more than a passion for work.

Competition in graduate employment

More graduates today are looking for work than there have been for the last 24 years – a record 11.6% of graduates in Australia in 2014 were seeking full-time graduate employment – without success, according to the 2014 Graduate Destinations report from Graduate Careers Australia.

In this competitive workplace, we must ensure not only that we prepare our graduates for success – creating, skilled, agile workers – but that we have the economy that can support them in the future.

How do we get there? We asked our panel of experts to map the path.

Heather Catchpole

Co-founder, Refraction Media

Read next: Victor RodriguesChief Software Architect at Cochlear, on what makes a prospective graduate stand out in the crowd.

People and careers: Meet graduates and postgraduates who’ve paved brilliant, cross-disciplinary careers here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s graduate knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on creating and propelling top Australian graduates. We’d love to hear from you!

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Australian Innovation Thought Leadership Series here.