With the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science this Saturday, 11th February, the Girl Geek Academy has said that while the Federal Government’s review of ‘Diversity in STEM’ will be finished by the end of this year – this is too long to wait for funding as it’s important we encourage women and girls to consider STEM right now.
Girl Geek Academy co-founder, Sarah Moran said there needs to be more pressure put on Ed Husic, the Minister for Industry and Science, to change the status quo for young women in tech because more needs to be done.
“With ‘Women in STEM’ programs under review for most of this year, we currently don’t anticipate any new funding commitments until 2024. The government’s third year in office is far too late to wait, we need action now,” said Sarah from Girl Geek Academy.
“While we are supportive of the review of ‘Women in STEM’ programs and hope it eventuates in more funding made available in the long term, we cannot ignore the short term fact that women and girls are falling behind,” she added.
Especially with the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science coming up this Saturday, it’s important to note that in cutting edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals (22%) is a woman.
Girl Geek Academy has already trained over 1000 high school girls in A.I. in Australia in virtual classes – without any government support. The Academy was hopeful that the new Labour government which won the election in May last year, would bring about fresh funding to support the growth of similar programs.
Sarah said: “There has been a drought of these type of programs as most organisations, typically run by women, have not survived the impacts of the pandemic. Girl Geek Academy lost 99.9% of our cash flow overnight when COVID hit and the only reason we still exist is because I went and got a day job to keep us alive.”
Sarah added it’s time for the government to act because “…we know women and girls have already slipped too far behind.”
“We’re calling for a solid investment in programs for the May budget to secure much needed support for women in industry to ‘lift as we climb’ – we desperately need to bring young girls through the pipeline.” she added.
The October 2022 budget committed $5.8 million over five years towards the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program. But on the flip side, $3.9 million over two years was removed from the Supporting Women’s Mid-Career Transition into the Tech Workforce component of the 2022–23 March Budget measure – titled Digital Economy Strategy.
“We are looking at industry shortages across the board in tech, A.I. and cybersecurity. We have to invest in one of our most under-utilised resources: women and girls,” Sarah said.
According to the United Nations, despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics.
Recipients of the inaugural Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grants
Girl Geek Academy was a successful recipient of the inaugural Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grants in 2016. Sarah said the Academy used this funding to build the successful #MissMakesCode program and to teach 1000 teachers how to teach coding in the classroom. Over the past seven years, there have only been four rounds of this funding deployed and Sarah said this is simply not enough.
The facts speak for themselves
A decade ago, only 33% of tertiary qualifications were awarded to Australian women in STEM fields. Thankfully, those numbers are growing. Women studying STEM subjects hit a peak in 2019 making up 36% of Australian university STEM enrolments.
Transformation doesn’t happen overnight but it’s reassuring to know that the STEM scene is improving, and there are women out there representing and standing up for the team. To get future Australian women into STEM and tech careers, it’s important to start when they’re young and in the classroom – so it’s important that maths and science have to be fun!
3P Learning – empowering girls to pursue careers in maths and tech
3P Learning have opened registration for World Maths Day 2023 this year held on March 8 in a bid to empower girls to pursue careers in maths and tech and prove to the world that girls are just as good as boys at maths – an organisation called 3P Learning held the world’s largest online maths competition, World Maths Day 2023.
World Maths Day asks schools to register their students from K-12 to participate in a celebration of learning as they compete against peers from around the world in 20 live one-minute Mathletics challenges. About 17,000 schools in 150 countries participated and 100,000 students from Australia competed.
IWD 2023 Theme: ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’
Based on the priority theme for the United Nations 67th Commission on the Status of Women – Cracking the Code highlights the role that bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies, and accessible education can play in combating discrimination and the marginalisation of women globally.
As Sarah from Girl Geek Academy said: “We need more than words and cupcakes this year, we need the government to have our back so we can all ‘Crack The Code’ on gender equality together.”
Some key facts to remember:
10 YEARS AGO:
On 20th December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognised that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
On 14th March 2011, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women adopted a report at its fifty-fifth session, with agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, and for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.
For more from Women Love Tech about women in STEM, visit here.