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Dream Big thinks big

Dream Big Australia is the first organisation in Australia to use the STEM Equity Evaluation Portal and publish the evaluation of its STEAM Ahead program.

Dream Big’s program aims to support women and non-binary university students completing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) bachelor’s degrees to secure employment in STEAM fields.

STEAM Ahead is a career development program that aims to build participants’ confidence by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and capabilities they need to succeed.

STEAM Ahead alumni say the program supported them by developing confidence in their abilities. The mentoring and networking opportunities were also cited as extremely valuable, helping to give students a greater understanding of where their careers could go and possible pathways they could take.

Bonnie Scott, Dream Big’s program and communications manager, shared her experience using the Portal to evaluate STEAM Ahead.

Coming from a background in marketing and administration, this was Bonnie’s first foray into evaluation, and the entire process was easy to follow, taking approximately 4 hours to complete from start to ‘publish’.

Bonnie watched the video of Dr Isabelle Kingsley explaining how to use the Portal before starting her program evaluation. The explanation about the inputs and outputs helped clarify part of the process. 

For the Dream Big team, a public evaluation was an essential part of their strategy to boost the program’s credibility, demonstrate its benefits, and answer questions for those interested in the program, such as ‘What is the program’s impact?’.

The Dream Big community has grown into a national program that includes hundreds of STEAM Ahead alumni, over 70 mentors across Australia, industry representatives, and in-kind partners.  

“Evaluation is important to help us know we’re doing the right thing, and we’re on the right track,” said Bonnie.

“The STEM Equity Evaluation Portal is a valuable tool for understanding how organisations can improve their activities, and it’s simple and easy to use.”

Bonnie identified two main areas for improvement through the evaluation of STEAM Ahead. The first learning will enable Dream Big to increase attendance at mentoring sessions by offering staggered session timings and incorporating better communication with participants during the application stage regarding session timings.

A gap in data related to employment outcomes overall was also identified, and the team are working to collect this data to improve future reporting outcomes.

The Dream Big team consists of 6 people, including Bonnie who noted that, “Regardless of your organisation’s size or whether you have a research background, you will be able to gain valuable insight from using the portal.”

STEAM Ahead’s full evaluation has been published on the STEM Equity Evaluation Portal, and shares some of the program’s successes, learnings and recommendations, which include data on student capability, employment outcomes, and feedback from in-kind partners and mentors.

Evaluate your STEM equity program or workplace change initiative using the Portal