Nurturing the next generation of women in STEMM

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Science and gender equity are taking equal precedence across the world today, as support mobilises for the United Nation’s 2020 International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Students who have participated in the HunterWiSE High School Outreach Program

While both underpin internationally agreed development goals, long-standing bias and gender stereotypes prevent a disproportionate number of women and girls from accessing science-related fields.

Globally, less than 30 per cent of researchers are women, while only around 30 per cent of all female students select science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) related fields in higher education.

Across the University of Newcastle, a number of initiatives have been introduced to promote gender equality. These include the development of a Workforce Gender Equity Plan, which outlines a suite of actions to address known gaps and other issues; the establishment of a Women in Science Chair, giving voice and leadership to diversity in STEMM*; and the introduction of a Gender Equality Leadership Pledge, to reinforce support from University leaders.

In 2018, the University was one of the first research institutions in Australia to be awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award.

Women in Science Chair, Professor Billie Bonevski, said the University of Newcastle has a proud reputation for its dedication to ending gender imbalance, but that there is a growing need to address this complex problem.

"February 11 is an important day for the University, and society more broadly. Globally, women continue to be underrepresented in some science disciplines like physics and maths, and with an increasing demand for skilled STEMM professionals, this is something the University is committed to helping change," said Professor Bonevski.

Deputy Head of Faculty Research, Innovation and Outreach of the Faculty of Science, Professor Juanita Todd, said the day provided a terrific opportunity to reflect on achievements to date, and reinforce efforts going forward.

“Advancing gender equality demands an active, committed response from all facets of our institution. We have introduced some fantastic initiatives to tackle this global problem, but we still have a long way to go. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I welcome others to join me in reiterating their commitment to end the gender imbalance in science,” said Professor Todd.

*The University of Newcastle refers to STEMM - science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.