With over 300 Women in STEM programs happening around Australia, what can we learn for the future growth of women in STEM?
That’s the question posed by the new guide to evaluating STEM gender equity programs (the Guide), published by Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith and her team.
The Guide is a key initiative under the Australian Government’s Advancing Women in STEM 2020 Action Plan. It provides practical tools for everyone involved in gender equity to assess the difference they’re making, and to inform the development of future projects.
For decades, we’ve been losing up to half of our best potential young researchers, women. Many were put off maths and science at a young age by stereotypes and bias, and others were lost to research in their 30s through lack of career support. The reasons are complex, but the result is a cultural, academic, economic and social loss for Australia.
A national effort to improve gender equity and support career paths in STEM has been rolling out across Australia in recent years. A report by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering in 2019 identified more than 300 gender equity programs.
“There are now hundreds of women in STEM programs with thousands of participants around the country,” says Lisa.
- Across Australia, Tech Girls have engaged more than 10,000 young women through a social, business and technical lens.
- In Far North Queensland the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy is delivering activities, camps, career planning and work experience.
- Superstars of STEM has mentored 90 women, creating high-profile female role models. Two thirds of their most recent cohort report that they have gained career progression in the last 12 months.
- Maths internships for PhD students across Australia are providing industry experience and careers options.
- Nationally, 45 universities and research organisations have gained accreditation in gender equity best practice. That’s led to fairer parental leave processes, support for LGBTQI+ ally programs, indigenous traineeships, parents’ rooms at work and more.
“If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” says Isabelle Kingsley, the author of the Guide and a research associate in the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador.
“We want the Guide to be a practical resource for leaders of STEM gender equity programs. We break it down into a simple step-by-step approach that can be applied to any gender equity program, or any program for that matter,” she says.
“We see the Guide as a pilot and we’re keen to get feedback from users so we can refine it throughout 2020,” says Lisa. Evaluating STEM Gender Equity Programs: A guide to effective program evaluation is a free resource available for download from the new Women in STEM Ambassador website: womeninstem.org.au.
The website includes:
- Information about the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador
- Useful resources for families, students, educators and workplaces
- Information about key projects, publications, videos and events.
Lisa Harvey-Smith and Isabelle Kingsley are available for interview.
For further information and for interview requests, contact
Lauren Sullivan, 0466 942 077, firstname.lastname@example.org.