Superstars of STEM smash gender stereotypes

20:00 EDT 3 Jul 2017 | Australian Life Scientist

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos has announced the first 30 Superstars of STEM — an initiative to raise the profile of Australia’s most dynamic female scientists and technologists and create a critical mass of strong, visible, relatable and public female role models in STEM. More than 300 applicants vied for a spot in the program, with the successful candidates to receive training and development to use social media, TV, radio and public speaking opportunities.

Science & Technology Australia (STA) President-Elect Professor Emma Johnston said studies in the USA and other countries similar to Australia had shown female STEM professionals are significantly underrepresented, with the typical image of a scientist being “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.”

Professor Johnston said the participants in the program hail from nearly every state and territory — eight from Victoria, eight from NSW, five from South Australia, five from Queensland, two from Tasmania and two from the ACT — 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 forensics scientists, biologists, mathematicians, agricultural scientists, neuroscientists, engineers, cancer researchers, ecologists, computer scientists and chemists — just to name a few.”

One of the Superstars is biostatistician Dr Karen Lamb, a research fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN). Dr Lamb currently collaborates with academics across IPAN providing statistics support and consultation for projects in nutrition and physical activity, as well as furthering her own research.

“I think it’s really important that people, especially women, are aware what you can do with mathematics,” said Dr Lamb. “There really are so many opportunities out there.

“It’s an area that can be very male dominated though, especially in senior positions. That’s why it’s so critical to have a female role model to look up to and give you something to aim towards.”

Professor Johnston said Superstars of STEM will be working over the next year with partners such as Women in STEMM Australia, the Australian Science Media Centre, GE and more to provide the Superstars with valuable communications skills and opportunities.

“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,” she said.

The 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 be required to share their stories at local high schools to ensure they are connecting with young Australian women with an interest in STEM.

Professor Johnston said Superstars of STEM would not have been made possible without funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grant program, and hopes it will support many more women in the years to come.

“The universal popularity of the program in its inaugural year shows there is great interest for it to continue,” she said.

The full list of Superstars of STEM can be found at

Original Article: Superstars of STEM smash gender stereotypes


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