STEM Girls

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Photo: 2018 STEM Girls cohort at the Networking Dinner

About STEM Girls

STEM Girls is the University of South Australia’s program to encourage girls in Year 11 to continue the study of Science and Mathematics throughout their schooling and into university.

Secondary Schools are invited to participate and strengthen their STEM initiatives for girls.

The range of opportunities include:

  • Enhancing their knowledge and understanding of STEM concepts
  • Forming networks with like-minded peers
  • Meeting and networking with women in STEM careers
  • Providing career information, including opportunities for cadetships and scholarships to support a STEM career pathway.

The program has two Inquiry Days at UniSA campuses and a two day STEM Girls Conference which includes a Networking Seminar and Dinner, and an Industry Day.

In each part of the program, women who are working in STEM professions are invited to speak with the girls and to be integral to the program. STEM undergraduate and doctoral students, in addition to past STEM Girls are connected to current STEM Girls during the program days and at the dinner.

Secondary school teachers are STEM Ambassadors, to mentor the STEM Girls in their school, and become partners in a network of teachers across the state.

The STEM Girls program is managed by UniSA Connect and has four clusters.  Clusters meet in the Maths and Science Centre at Mawson Lakes Campus, the Samsung SMARTSchool at Magill Campus, at Whyalla Campus and at Mount Gambier Campus.

The program is strengthened by the resources of the University to support knowledge and skill development. STEM Girls will be provided with a UniSA email address and access to the UniSA Moodle site to enable networking with other STEM Girls. STEM Ambassadors are encouraged to network with each other via the Moodle site.

95% of STEM Girls would recommend the program to other students.

History

UniSA Connect initiated STEM Girls for the University in 2015. The program continues to grow, and contact is maintained with girls from the inaugural program.

This initiative commenced in response to state and national agendas to increase the number of females in STEM careers where there continues to be chronic underrepresentation, and to focus on STEM skills.  STEM Skills are increasingly important to the economic and social well being of Australia with 75% of the fastest growing occupations requiring these skills

From the STEM Girls 2015 cohort of 16, 12 have continued study and are now in tertiary education, with 8 in STEM related pathways.

In 2016, we appointed our first STEM Girls Champion, Dr Laura-Anne Bull, Pro Vice Chancellor: Student Engagement & Equity at the University of South Australia. In this year, STEM Girls commenced regionally with the Whyalla cluster. The program grew to 2 clusters and 40 girls. This was an exciting addition as the regional girls travelled to Adelaide for the Networking event and Industry tour.

Greater regional engagement occurred and, STEM Girls commenced in Mount Gambier in 2017. This addition increased the cohort to 3 clusters and 60 girls. Staying connected to the STEM Girls after year 11 became a focus, and six of the 2016 STEM Girls were hosted at the International Women’s Day breakfast.

In 2018, our current STEM Girls Champion, Professor Tanya Monro was appointed, and the STEM Girls program continued to expand. An additional metropolitan cluster commenced, and the cohort grew to 4 clusters and 90 girls. In addition, UniSA Connect hosted six of the 2017 STEM Girls at the International Women’s Day breakfast.

STEM Girls is now part of the University’s Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) strategy. SAGE is a University initiative and links to the Australian Government’s request to the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to develop a Women in STEM Decadal Plan. Read more. 

In 2019, STEM Girls will continue to expand the numbers of girls participating and explore ways of maintaining contact with past STEM Girls. We value the STEM Ambassadors in each secondary school and work collaboratively with them to continue the focus in their schools and communities. The Industry relationships and the influence of women who have STEM careers provide valuable input for the development and future outcomes of the STEM Girls.  Visiting STEM industries provides awareness raising for the girls and showcases the range of STEM careers and opportunities in South Australia.

Areas of study and research

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