STEMM Profile: Juliette Major | Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Coordinator | St Clare’s College | Canberra | ACT

Juliette Major, ICT Coordinator, St Clare’s College [Image: Caroline Lanzon]

“When someone pays you a compliment say thank you and accept it. Don’t put yourself down or denigrate your effort and work. You worked hard for where you are and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Stand up for yourself and your craft. You’re not an imposter”

Juliette Major is the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Coordinator at St Clare’s College in Canberra. She holds a Masters in Education (ICT) and has been a teacher for over 25 years in Canberra which makes her sound very old. Young at heart, Juliette is passionate about empowering girls to seek STEMM subjects and careers. Juliette works with professional associations to be of service to other ICT educators in Canberra specifically through InTEACT and the Australian Computer Society. She is an Australian event partner for VEX Robotics in the Canberra and Goulburn region.

Juliette is a passionate advocate for improving the engagement of girls in IT and STEMM subjects. She has previously consulted for the Digital Careers Education Advisory Committee, where her voice contributed to the ACT and national agenda on addressing the need to engage more students in STEMM careers. She was also one of the consulting teachers working with the Australian Department of Defence on the planning and delivery of the Girls Programming Network – a recent initiative that aims to connect girls in school with female role models and ICT professionals, and create an environment that encourages them to learn and enjoy programming.

Juliette actively seeks out ongoing professional learning to continue to develop her skills and knowledge of ICT and related disciplines, which she then shares with her students. This has included conferences on the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum, STEMM and the events held by the ACS and InTEACT. She enjoys traveling with her students as she organises experiences for them across STEMM platforms. In the last few years this has included accompanying students to NASA, visiting industry houses such as Google and Atlassian, UNSW aerospace lectures, seeing Dr Jane Goodall in Sydney and taking students to the VEX World Robotics championship in Kentucky in early 2019.

Juliette firmly believes that all girls should build with Lego, pizza could be one of the keys to engaging students in STEMM, and that relationships with industry will capture students’ love of STEMM at an early age.

At school Juliette is “Mrs Major” – ICT Coordinator by day.  At home she is “Mum” to Samuel and loves to cook, and is “Chef Extraordinaire” by night. Juliette loves to read and challenge Netflix algorithms. Plants vs Zombies 2 is her favourite game.

What is the biggest challenge to women pursuing a career in the STEMM sector?

Having really great industry mentors who can encourage young women into STEMM subjects from an early age is one of the biggest challenges. Industry roles are transient and it can seem that as soon as you make a great connection you find that the person has moved on. Having people willing to act as mentors is slowly becoming popular. Industry professionals need support from their employers to spend time with girls in education and when they change jobs and companies they need to be supported in continuing their mentoring roles.

What was the key thing that helped you get to where you are today?

I have always had very supportive supervisors, bosses and Principals who allowed me the freedom to try new ventures for my students. I have had enormous support from professional associations such as the Information Technology Educators of the ACT, ACT Design and Technology Teachers Association and the Australian Computer Society. Basing my pedagogical practise in research and implementing activities that will engage girls in and out of the classroom has created an environment where my students love to learn and try new things. Say yes to everything and then learn how to do it!

How can we best support the next generation of women in STEMM?

Target opportunities for young women in school to try lots of different activities. Start in the primary schools and continue into High School. Run the school holiday programs, support the events the girls are interested in, volunteer to coach, mentor, judge, finance. Come to the schools and let them see how cool your job is. Stay in contact. Be that professional voice they can turn to for advice. Offer work experience placements. Get involved in helping with projects and be that connection to university and industry that the girls are looking for. They are spoilt for choice so make the choice easy.

How do you cope with self-doubt? How do you cope with imposter syndrome?

You have to practise to develop self-confidence. It’s okay to say “I’ll get back to you” if you don’t know something and think a problem through. You don’t need all the answers at once. Acknowledge that we are all still learning. Then find a great solution.

You have to be that person that recognises their own achievements, knows their craft and believes in herself. You can ask other people to be sounding boards and with humility, try and grow when you hear other great ideas.

When someone pays you a compliment say thank you and accept it. Don’t put yourself down or denigrate your effort and work. You worked hard for where you are and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Stand up for yourself and your craft. You’re not an imposter. You know your pedagogy, back it with research and continue to develop your skills.

Do you mentor others? How do you manage your time to ensure you can efficiently and effectively mentor?

Yes but usually not through conscious effort. People ask questions and I share my experiences. Coffee is often the key in my world to making time to mentor. I found I was inadvertently, not consciously mentoring others. Take a few minutes to grab that coffee, walk away from your desk, be with people and actively listen. You can coach to help try and find solutions. Some people just want to vent and in doing so they will find answers to their own issues. Some want to ask for help to find the solutions and that’s where you can step up, offer a cuppa and be their sounding board. Just being present is often all a person needs but sometimes we are time poor. Try and make an hour a week to be with another colleague be it at lunch or bring them a cuppa. Congratulate others on their hard work and the work they do in supporting you.

Twitter: @JulietteMajor

LinkedIn: Juliette Major

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