On invitation by the Australian Ambassador three WiNners were among the audience on 7 October listening to a presentation: “Gender Equity in STEM: Sticking Points and Immediate Actions” given by the Australian Ambassador for Women in STEM, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith. She stated that despite of numerous initiatives to encourage women in STEM, the representation of women in STEM in Australia still remains low. For example, only 17% of STEM-qualified workers in Australia are female. Her intention is to understand the true reasons behind the gender inequality and to make concrete recommendations for addressing this inequality.
There is a strong economic imperative to include women in STEM which makes a very convincing argument for policy makers. However, there are challenges that women face in the workplace, for example, only two-third of interviewed women report to have their voice devalued in the workplace, and that harassment issues are sometimes not addressed.
- Thus far, Australia has implemented the following ongoing initiatives:
- 10-year plan for women in STEM created by the communities in Australia, which protects the plan from collapse in case of changes in the government.
- Publicly available database of women in STEM in Australia so that there are no more excuses for not being to locate women in STEM careers
- Girls in STEM Toolkit aimed at helping school-age girls to understand the diverse range of STEM careers available to them.
- A $1.5-million National STEM Awareness Initiative aimed at getting more girls engaged in the STEM discussion
Prof Lisa Harvey-Smith is touring Europe in an effort to engage with others who are doing similar work in order to share experiences and generate more ideas on what she can do in Australia.
The event was well received by the audience and ended with lots of discussions.