Tag Archives: Emma Johnston

Superstars of STEM

Superstars of STEM announced today!

Thirty female scientists and technologists have been named the first Superstars of STEM – ready to smash stereotypes and forge a new generation of role models for young women and girls.

More than 300 applicants vied for a spot to be a Superstar, with the successful candidates to receive training and development to use social media, TV, radio and public speaking opportunities to carve out a more diverse face for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Announced today by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, the women will learn how to speak about their science and inspire others to consider a career in STEM.

Science & Technology Australia President-Elect, Professor Emma Johnston, said studies in the USA and other countries similar to Australia had shown female STEM professionals were significantly under-represented.

“Superstars of STEM is the first program of its kind and will prove vital for the future of STEM in Australia,” Professor Johnston said.

“Often when you ask someone to picture or draw a scientist, they will immediately think of an old man with white hair and a lab coat.

“We want Australian girls to realise that there are some amazing, capable and impressive women working as scientists and technologists too, and that they work in and out of the lab in places you might not expect,” she said.

“Science and technology have made our lives longer, happier, healthier and more connected – with more girls considering STEM careers, we have the potential to achieve so much more.”

Professor Johnston said the participants in this world-first program hailed from nearly every state and territory; from the public, academic and private sectors; and from all sorts of scientific and technological backgrounds.

“Participants are working in archaeology, robotics, medicine, cider research, pregnancy health, education, psychology and so much more,” she said.

“We have forensic scientists, biologists, mathematicians, agricultural scientists, neuroscientists, engineers, cancer researchers, ecologists, computer scientists, and chemists – just to name a few.”

Professor Johnston also acknowledged the support that will allow the program to thrive, including vital funding through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grant program.

“Over the next year, we look forward to working with partners like Women in STEMM Australia; the Australian Science Media CentreGE and many others to provide these 30 Superstars with valuable communications skills and opportunities to use them,” Professor Johnston said.

“We will be working to make sure you’ll be seeing many more women on your TV screens, hearing them on your radios, and reading about them online.”

“We also hope to support many more women in the years to come by extending Superstars of STEM beyond its pilot year. The universal popularity of the program in its inaugural year shows there is great interest for it to continue.”

The Superstars of STEM program will also include a mentoring component, designed to link participants with inspiring women in their sector who can provide insights into leadership in their field. Participants will also be required to share their stories at local High Schools to ensure they are connecting with young Australian women with an interest in STEM.

Of the final 30, 8 are from Victoria, 8 from New South Wales, 5 from South Australia, 5 from Queensland, 2 from Tasmania and 2 from the ACT. You can meet them by heading to the Superstars of STEM page.

This article was first published by Science & Technology Australia. Read the original article here

If you’d like to read more stories about STEM superstars, click here

SAGE pilot

Men of history, women of the future

The modern disciplines and industries of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have developed over centuries, from the natural philosophers of the Renaissance to the multi-billion dollar global enterprises of today. With only a few exceptions – Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin among them – men have dominated the institutions of STEM, brought new technologies and innovations to market, and inevitably reaped the recognition and the rich and varied rewards.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the structures and processes that underpin STEM today have evolved in a way that strongly favour men. Reflecting on my own career, I well remember my surprise at being asked to change a regular Saturday morning departmental staff meeting to a time more compatible with the family responsibilities of some of my female colleagues. The request was eminently sensible, but such considerations were only just beginning to register with STEM leaders of the 1990s.

Fast-forward to 2016, and while many of the policies and procedures that support hiring and promotion practices have improved, there remain significant structural and cultural problems that need to be overcome.

There is a sharp and in some cases growing discrepancy in representation of women and men across the academic spectrum, with women holding more than 50% of junior positions across most STEM disciplines, but fewer than 20% of full professorships.

Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of South Australia spoke on this issue with Professors Nalini Joshi and Emma Johnston at the National Press Club in March 2016. She described the ‘motherhood penalty’ that has been shown to affect income, career advancement and perceived competence relative to men and to women without children.

Catherine Osborne also spoke on the ABC Science Show about how the lack of flexibility and the short term nature of contracts offered to early and mid-career scientists – particularly women – forced her out of her chosen profession.

In an effort to address these issues, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering joined forces in 2015 to launch the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative that is piloting the Athena SWAN Charter; a UK-based accreditation framework that rewards universities and other research institutions on the basis of how much they do to improve gender equity in STEM.

Thirty of Australia’s 40 universities have now joined the SAGE pilot. So have a number of medical research institutes and research agencies, CSIRO among them. The Academies are grateful to the Australian Government for their support of this initiative through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

However, the efforts to change the many structural barriers to gender equality in STEM are only the beginning. More insidious, and therefore more difficult to overcome, are the significant cultural norms and unconscious biases that affect day-to-day interactions between men and women working in STEM, as they do throughout society.

There is clearly much to be done. Forward thinking organisations are setting targets for achieving gender balance in senior STEM roles by 2025 or 2030. Between now and then, programs like the SAGE pilot, Male Champions of Change and the Panel Pledge will make a difference, but true change will require leadership and commitment from us all.

Professor Andrew Holmes AM

President, Australian Academy of Science

Read next: Dr Saraid Billiards of the NHMRC sheds light on funding reforms that are vital to the retention and progression of 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.

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