Murdoch University Initiative: The Future Needs Women In STEM

By Women Love Tech
on 5 April 2018

Find out what Murdoch University is up to with its initiative to support a future where there are more women in STEM.

Murdoch University hosted the WISE Women Symposium last week following the International Women’s Day #PressforProgress movement being championed by celebrities across social media.

The Symposium echoed the sentiments of this global movement for gender equality, showcasing the variety of career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to about 200 female students in years eight to 10.

A panel of inspirational women from Murdoch University smashed the stereotypes associated with working in STEM, demonstrating that career pathways included everything from being a sustainable fashion designer or science journalist to head film animator at Pixar.

Immunology Professor Cassandra Berry said it was important to demystify STEM careers and prove that a science degree did not limit you to working in a laboratory.

What do you love about being a woman in STEM?

As a biomedical scientist with a background in STEM, I love being able to solve problems and contribute towards the prevention of infectious diseases across the fields. As an example, even though I am not a registered veterinarian I can provide innovative ideas to help treat animal diseases. I am not a clinician but can help people stay healthy with design of new diagnostics and vaccines/therapeutics for emerging infectious diseases. This proves that you don’t have to keep a narrow focus on traditional training as a pure scientist, doctor or vet.

What advice would you give to your younger self/other women?

My advice is to stay curious and keep learning from asking questions. Stick to studying foundation subjects (e.g. maths, physics and chemistry) in high school as they teach you how to think.  Applying this basic knowledge to solve different problems in your future is the fun, creative part.

Anything else you’d like to add?

STEM builds a strong platform for girls to design their careers upon. They can engage their unique passions and build their career paths upon this strong STEM foundation.

“In the future, 75 per cent of the jobs are going to require STEM skills. Women make up 50 per cent of the population and half of society has these ideas, so it’s time to call them into action,” she said.

“I think STEM is everywhere, we just need to open our eyes and see it.”

Forensic biologist Dr Paola A. Magni said that your initial study area was just a first step to the many possibilities of having a career in STEM.

What do you love about being a woman in STEM?

I didn’t “decide” to become a woman in STEM, I feel that science decided to have me as a part of it. I just followed my natural inclinations that were definitely not in the world of art, literature, philosophy or music. What do I love of being a woman in STEM is that I can be myself! I can be who I am, and fulfil my own dreams as well as those of the world I live in for my little girl.

What advice would you give to your younger self/other women?

Don’t lie to yourself. If science is what you want to pursue, don’t be afraid of being “different”. You don’t have to fit in to be happy – if you’re happy, you can fit in anywhere, any time and with anyone.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Girls these days don’t know about Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers – the iconic dance partners. I’d like all girls to remember that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but also backwards and in high heels.

“We’re women, we can do anything. The sky’s the limit,” she said.

“Girls can be girls, and they can be a scientist at the same time. They don’t have to be scared to be a combination of both those things.”

Senior Lecturer in Science Education Dr Woods-McConney said it was great to see the high school pupils so engaged and excited about the different opportunities available in STEM careers.

“The Q&A panel was a great opportunity for the students to see fabulous role models who exemplified that careers in STEM go beyond science.”

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