Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS)
The Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS) research project within Deakin’s School of Education is committed to fostering young girls’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and equipping them with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.
The GALS project will be delivered over a four-year period in Geelong, Warrnambool and Mildura, engaging with approximately 60 schools, 60 teachers and 240 girls between the ages of 11-14. It aims to expose girls to the existence of alternative education pathways and a wide range of rewarding STEM occupations during the middle years of schooling (Years 5-8), a critical time when many girls turn away from STEM oﬀerings at school.
The GALS program involves girls undertaking a project focusing on a local industry need by engaging with STEM and entrepreneurial thinking. Girls work with local female scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, Deakin University STEM educators, tertiary students and their teachers. Working in small groups, with teacher support, the girls develop solutions using an engineering design process, and share their responses using models and designed communication posters.
The girls’ project outputs are launched at a public space (such as a town library) and placed on display for a period to ensure community engagement with the key ideas. Recognition of the girls as leaders in STEM is an important component of the project, so communication of their successful eﬀorts to the broader community is a necessary aspect.
The program aims to:
• expose girls to the existence of alternative education pathways and a wide range of rewarding STEM occupations
• change the culture of participating schools (leaders, teachers and students), and of broader community to acknowledge STEM as an alternative career pathway for girls.
• foster an environment where girls are seen as future leaders and entrepreneurs in STEM
• involve various stakeholders in education and industry
• strengthen STEM teaching pedagogy, use ‘real-world’ STEM scenarios
• involve industry partnerships in knowledge transfer into education
The overall goal is to foster girls’ interests in STEM and entrepreneurship, develop STEM skills and knowledge, and build their professional networks.
The GALS project team have created resources to assist teachers, including problem cards, lesson ideas and lesson plans. A dedicated team member liaises with schools to support teachers to successfully deliver the program.
The Deakin STEM team, consisting of Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs, Lihua Xu, Jorja McKinnon and Chris Speldewinde, is immensely proud to be delivering a program that challenges gender-bias and supports the aspirations of young girls pursuing a rewarding career in the STEM industry.