This International Women’s Day, we’re talking about Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future. We’re embracing new technologies and championing the unique skills and knowledge of women in STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But there’s a lot more to it than just that – STEM covers a whole range of skills, topics and careers!
Wildlife conservation officers
…Just to name a few!
Did you know that right now, women are significantly underrepresented in the STEM industry? Only 1 in 10 Australians working in STEM occupations are women. And when you look at jobs where most of the workforce has vocational STEM qualifications, less than one in 50 workers are women. But why?
One of the key reasons is gender stereotypes and bias about what is suitable for girls and boys, and the assumption that men are better than women at STEM. Uptake of STEM related subjects in school aged girls is low. Sometimes they might be told that these subjects ‘aren’t for girls’, or they’re just more actively encouraged to pursue other education and careers.
Demand for STEM skills is high, but the lack of diversity in STEM means we have a workforce that is limited in size and missing a broad range of perspectives. This needs to change. By enabling the full participation of women, girls and non-binary people in STEM education and careers, we can harness the potential for further innovation and change for the future. And that benefits everyone!
So – what can we do to ensure that the STEM industry includes everyone?
Parents, carers and teachers play a huge role in developing children’s confidence and interest in pursuing STEM related education and career paths.
- Talk to your kids – especially girls – about STEM, what it looks like, the skills involved and the careers it can lead to. Sometimes children have misconceptions about the awesome jobs that STEM can lead to! Find STEM role models and people working in the area that girls can relate to. These don’t have to be highflyers, just someone they can identify with in a job they could see themselves being in the future
- Smash the stereotypes about gender ‘appropriate’ careers. Reinforce that kids, and girls especially, shouldn’t be limited by outdated gender stereotypes about STEM.
Increased participation for women and girls in STEM fields is a key step in building an inclusive, diverse and innovative workforce.
Let’s Crack the Code to gender quality!