How to grow girls’ interest in STEM and the workforce of the future
A new report on why many girls do not pursue study and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has recommended a range of initiatives and programs to encourage girls’ participation in these subjects at school to better equip them to pursue careers in what are the fastest growing occupations in Australia.
The report Girls’ Future – Our Future, The Invergowrie Foundation STEM Report was funded by the Invergowrie Foundation and completed by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.
One of the report’s authors, Professor Jan van Driel from the University of Melbourne, says parents, carers, teachers and career advisors should learn to avoid the stereotyping of girls’ interests and abilities in STEM.
“They should work together to encourage girls’ participation in STEM subjects,” he says.
Another of the report’s authors, Associate Professor Linda Hobbs from Deakin University, stressed the importance of providing genuine opportunities for girls to engage with STEM professionals through project work, mentoring or industry placement.
“If they are able to interact with and relate to people already in the field, they are able to see their own career possibilities,” she says.
The report also recommends:
- Focusing on early years and primary education to address unconscious biases and teachers’ ability to teach STEM for all students;
- Quality career advice on the diversity of STEM-based career possibilities.
Chair of the Invergowrie Foundation Wendy Lewis says the report will contribute significantly to advancing girls’ education in Victoria.
“If girls and women are not encouraged to engage with STEM they will be at greater risk of becoming excluded from a substantial part of the workforce of the future.”