As 2016 draws to a close, it is immensely rewarding to reflect on all we have achieved in the last 12 months.
In the past year, Women in STEMM Australia has collaborated with a suite of Partners and collaborators to increase the profile of women in science, technology, engineering,
mathematics and medicine (STEMM) across a broad range of disciplines and professional sectors, and we are thrilled with the ever-growing number of outstanding programs that are now being established and supported for women in STEMM research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship; as well as the many programs engaging girls in STEMM underway – our future! This is a core goal for us – to see girls and women in STEMM on the National Agenda – and it is happening! Hurrah!!
How the year began
Our year kick-started with the WISEnet merger, significantly strengthening our network and bringing 30 years of advocacy and inspiration into our organisation. We had a fabulous International Women’s Day celebration with the inspiring Remarkable Women in STEMM Exhibit by Anne-Sophie Dielen and the announcement of our Expert Advisory Board led by Professor Sharon Bell.
Co-founder Marguerite Evans-Galea was invited to deliver the Keynote address and
closing comments at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women and the Economy APEC Women in STEMM Workshop in Lima, Peru and it was an honour to contribute and support the development of this study and report.
Co-founder Michelle Gallaher further extended our network internationally by connecting with Kristi Sarno, the National President and Board Chair of Women In Bio in the USA. She learnt about their activities and broad engagement, exchanged ideas and shared information.
National Science Week
For National Science Week, we honoured the women in STEMM who came before us by sponsoring the Australian Academy of Science’s “In Her Own Words” project – sharing the science and stories of six phenomenal women in STEMM history.
Our student affiliate Charles Gray also coordinated our month-long feature on Students in STEMM in August and the response was overwhelming! We received so many profiles that we still have more to post, which is absolutely fantastic.
We also partnered with Franklin Women for the inaugural “Hats on for the WiSA Hot Seat” event for school students and teachers as part of the Sydney Science Festival. Dr Melanie Thomson organised this engaging, fun event kindly hosted by the dynamic Leigh Dayton – a big shout out to all involved!
Sharing it all
We must say thank you to all for the many wonderful contributions to Women in STEMM Australia through our blog and our profiles – a diverse range of authors – all ages and career stages, men and women from a wide variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds, and those who identify with different minority groups. To share your stories and career journeys so openly makes it easier for others to travel a similar road.
We encourage everyone to scroll through our blog on a quiet day – there’s some terrific reading with “She did it” by past Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb, “Baby Turtles – the best question ever” by school student Jacinta Rees, “Ten tips for dealing with work and parental leave” by Deakin University researcher Dr Emily Nicholson, and “Commercialisation is good science… plus a little bit of art” by Lorna Meldrum, Vice President, Commercial Operations for Seqirus Ltd. Plus so much more…!
Connecting Women in STEMM
September culminated in a tremendous achievement for us with our inaugural National Symposium: Connecting Women in STEMM! With over 230 delegates from academic research, industry, business, education and government attending, this meeting highlighted best practices and policies, including the Science in Australia Gender Equity pilot, and shone the spotlight on outstanding initiatives underway in leading STEMM organizations.
A number of programs aimed at engaging girls in STEMM were also introduced, and several science teachers attended this session. Importantly, delegates extended their network across disciplines and professional sectors.
This event was only possible thanks to the enthusiastic support, drive and dedication of our sponsors, speakers, facilitators and most importantly, our delegates. We hope you found this event as vibrant, as inspiring and as useful as we did!
Inaugural Ruby Payne-Scott Keynote
To honour Ruby’s contribution to Australian science research and education, Women in STEMM Australia held the inaugural Ruby Payne-Scott Keynote. This prestigious Keynote recognises outstanding contributions by an individual that empower women in STEMM.
Recipient: Professor Sharon Bell, Chair, Expert Advisory Board, Women in STEMM Australia.
The Keynote was introduced by Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt and Ruby’s daughter-in-law Jeannie Hall was in attendance. Jeannie and Brian generously donated Ruby’s biographies as a gift to Sharon.
The gemaker Women in STEMM Award
The team at gemaker helps Australia’s smartest people take their ideas to the world which is why they provided the Connecting Women in STEMM Award.
Valued at $600, this travel award supported a woman researcher who requires travel support to attend. In recognition of the contributions made to the Women in STEMM Australia blog and our profiles, a committee comprised of professionals from gemaker and Women in STEMM Australia reviewed contributor biographies on our site, and a number were invited to apply.
Recipient: Dr Rosanne Guijt, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Australia.
Education Perfect Travel Award
Each year the ASTA and Education Perfect STEM Challenge invites teachers to submit thought-provoking questions and from these, a winning question is selected for students around Australia and New Zealand to answer. This year, the highest scoring female student in the competition also received the inaugural Education Perfect Travel Award allowing them to attend our National Symposium. The theme was Drones, Droids and Robots, the competition was to “design a drone(s) ‘inspired by nature’ that will improve one or more aspects of farming efficiency.”
Recipient: Rena Tang, a Year 7 student at Meriden School in NSW.
Rena submitted a drone that was inspired by the hoverfly, Eristalis tenax. The design incorporated existing technology for surveying farmland, but also had functions to pollinate and water the crops. Rena recognised the potential need for drones that are capable of pollination in response to the decline of bee colonies. The drone Rena designed was covered with solar panels, and had a charging platform for times of low sunlight. The sensors for monitoring the farm, along with photoelectric sensors, ensured the drone could avoid hazards and automatically return home when needed.
Every speaker received a book by or about a woman in STEMM – here are some our recommendations for your events. Our special guest facilitators received a limited edition women in STEMM screen print entitled Pay it Forward by a young Australian artist, Eleri Mai Harris, commissioned by Women in STEMM Australia.
Hearing the latest
Over two days, our outstanding Symposium speakers and facilitators shared the latest in best practices and policies through the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot of the UK’s Athena SWAN program, as well as key initiatives that are creating change underway within STEMM organisations in academia and industry, including a successful mentoring program at Swinburne University, a range of progressive policies at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the Women in Science Parkville Precinct-NAB partnership, unconscious bias training at Monash, as well as sponsorship, networks and more at CISCO.
An entertaining session facilitated by our Expert Advisory Board member Natasha Mitchell (ABC Radio National) about engaging girls in STEMM was extremely popular and well-received. A number of outstanding programs including Robogals, Career Trackers, Tech Girls Movement, Growing Tall Poppies, and several programs from the Foundation for Young Australians were introduced, and several science teachers attended this session.
Our dinner was held at the stunning St Kilda Town Hall and hosted by The Royal Society of Victoria. Our warm, engaging speaker was Laura McKenzie, CEO and Director of Scale Investors, who was introduced by teenage Shark Tank entrepreneur and founder of Luv Ur Self, Ms Isabella Dymalovski.
Jane Urquhart presented on behalf of the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Jane overviewed the Department’s initiatives to support Women in STEM and entrepreneurship, including the new WISE grants program. An interactive Q&A with Jane and her team followed, and this proved to be one of the most popular sessions with many delegates appreciating the opportunity to meet some of the people in the Department. One delegate excitedly said “The Department is normally an impenetrable black box to researchers, whereas this session made it real and gave it a ‘human face’”.
An insightful, and at times raw and moving session, was a number of women sharing how they navigated breaks and transitions in their wide and varied careers. Women in business, industry, academic research, education and government shared their journey – honestly and openly. Women early in their careers can learn so much from these stories – tips and tricks to overcome hurdles, avoid potholes and be more strategic in planning forward.
Moving to the innovation space, our final afternoon focussed on shifting organisational culture with Plenary speaker Gavin Fox-Smith, Managing Director of Johnson and Johnson Australia and New Zealand sharing the progressive initiatives underway in his organisation. Dr Krystal Evans then facilitated a great discussion around fostering an environment where more women in STEMM can lead and excel, and discussing how men can help by actively mentoring and sponsoring women in the workplace.
Visit our complete Symposium Gallery!
Last, but definitely not least, we were again official partners for Innovation Week 2016! This is an annual celebration of STEMM innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia led by the Australian Science and Innovation Forum (ASIF) in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Innovation Week 2016 was officially launched by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP. As partners we identify speakers, organise events, ensure gender balance on panels and cross-promote these events broadly to engage women and girls in STEMM.
So who are we?
Women in STEMM Australia is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 which has grown into a nationally and internationally recognized not-for-profit association for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
Our core purpose is to advocate for gender equity and equality in all of the Australian STEMM sectors, and support initiatives that drive change in the workplace and learning space, engage on gender equity amongst women and men in STEMM, whilst upholding core values such as respect and scientific excellence. Our role is to ensure women in STEMM with the capacity and capability to contribute to the innovation agenda are equally included, recognized and rewarded for their efforts. We have a committed Executive that dedicates time and energy to this role. The momentum this has stimulated is exciting!
Our inaugural Ambassador, Dr Leonie Walsh, was announced at our National Symposium 2016 and we are thrilled to have her on board! Leonie’s distinguished career, including her previous role as Victoria’s first Lead Scientist, has led to her extensive experience and expertise in STEMM industries and manufacturing. Leonie is particularly passionate about supporting early career researchers and women in STEMM.
Our philosophy is “Pay It Forward” and we uphold the core values of scientific excellence and respect for all. Women in STEMM Australia has created a diverse, inclusive network of 10,000 STEMM professionals at all levels of academia, industry, education, business and government, and includes all women in STEMM regardless of their discipline and profession.
Increasing the voice and visibility of women in STEMM
Our website and social media profiles are our primary platform for engagement and through these we connect daily with extraordinary people – hearing their stories, ideas and opinions, and networking like never before.
Our blog is our cornerstone feature, where women and men in STEMM at all levels write about their career experiences, their views on gender equity and diversity, best practices and policies, and their experiences of the changing nature of work in the STEMM sector. We also regularly post profiles of women in STEMM on our site – students and professionals – from around Australia.
Our audience is mostly women, especially those early and mid-career, who are looking for advice, role models, opinion leadership and insight. Our STEMM profiles encompass women in a wide range of STEMM professions, and have proven particularly popular with students and educators at high school and university.
Our leadership and governance
Women in STEMM Australia’s governance and strategic direction is overseen by an Expert Advisory Board chaired by Professor Sharon Bell, a leading authority on gender equality in STEMM.
Co-founders, Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea and Ms Michelle Gallaher each have over 20 years of experience in the STEMM sector with national and international experience in research, education, entrepreneurship and innovation.
We warmly wish you all – every single one of you remarkable girls and women in STEMM – the happiest of holidays, the best of the festive season and a fantastic 2017 ahead!
Co-founder and CEO
Women in STEMM Australia