Supporting Girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond (#SGISTEM) showcased the ideas, programs, events and organisations that exist to encourage equality of opportunity in STEM. It provided In2science mentors, teachers and members of the STEM education community with the opportunity to engage with a critical issue facing their disciplines. Equally importantly, it helped them to better understand how they can utilise their roles as mentors, teachers, educators and corporate leaders to encourage girls to pursue their interest in STEM. Attendees gained valuable ideas for classroom interventions, mentoring strategies, school collaborations, corporate engagement, and how they can work together to approach issues relating to gender equity.
The evening was opened by In2science’s own Rachael McCullough, who pointed out that just as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had justified his gender-equal cabinet because “it [was] 2015”, we should similarly be boosting gender equity in STEM because it is 2017.
The 6 panellists, representing industry, advocacy, secondary and tertiary education sectors commented on what they viewed as the greatest challenges to gender equity in STEM education and STEM careers. Michelle Gallaher, founder of Women in STEMM Australia, pointed out that sometimes men need to step back and support women to take the lead. Waheed Rashid of Ericsson provided a business perspective on the need to increase gender balance and address the shortage of visible female leaders in the corporate world. Dr Christine Redman from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education highlighted the need for boys and girls to work together from a young age in order for both to form positive attitudes about the capabilities of girls. Siddharth Verma, founder of BrainSTEM, advocated an education environment where girls are encouraged to take more risks and learn to not be afraid of failure. Janine McIntosh, manager of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) schools programs, highlighted the need to communicate the importance of STEM engagement for females across the entire STEM ‘pipeline’: primary, secondary and tertiary education, through to all stages of career progression. Dr Anita Gamvrellis, a teacher at Wesley College, reminded the audience that teachers, peers, parents and industry professionals are the biggest influences for girls interested in STEM.
After the lively and positive panel discussion, the audience and panel split off into two breakout sessions for more focused discussion on ‘Classroom Strategies’ and ‘Industry and Role Models’. These two topics provided attendees with the opportunity to further their expertise based upon their background and interest and to ask questions of panelists.
The event concluded with an expo and networking forum in which a diverse range of STEM outreach organisations showcased their programs. These included AMSI Schools / CHOOSEMATHS, BrainSTEM, In2science, The University of Melbourne Physics Society, Robogals, Sisters in Science, STELR (ATSE), and Telescopes in Schools.
Participants reported coming away from the event feeling energised and optimistic about the future, and appreciative of the opportunity to mix with like-minded people and share ideas.
The event was made possible through the generous funds from The Selby Scientific Foundation.
Twitter highlights and a video of the introduction to the #SGISTEM event is available here.
— In2science (@In2science) September 24, 2017