The STEM Sisters project recently gave 17 young girls from East Gippsland and Wellington Shires the opportunity to travel to Canberra to seriously immerse themselves in all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The group of young women, hailing from a range of schools throughout the Wellington and East Gippsland Shires travelled to Canberra last month to participate in a three-day immersion program into the business of CSIRO.

Here they had a chance to learn about the range of jobs and opportunities in the STEM world. They also got to talk to scientists who shared their pathways and passions into STEM.

This program was driven by a partnership between the three Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs) in Gippsland, and supported by funding from Regional Development Victoria. The STEM Sisters Project – “If You Can’t See it, You Can’t Be It” – identified Year 10 girls from across Gippsland schools to participate in this program.

The project’s aim is to increase the awareness of young women to the opportunities that exist now, and into the future, in the STEM areas. This will allow young women to make better informed choices to study STEM-related subjects whilst at secondary school, and then continue that study into higher education.

The Foundation for Young Australians recently stated: ‘Sadly, women are largely underrepresented in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In a study released last year [sic], women were found to make up less than a third of STEM university graduates, while the physics, astronomy and engineering industries presented even lower numbers. When it comes to the number of women actually working in STEM, that number is whittled down to a tiny 16%.’

Pam Waters, Project Officer with the local Gippsland East LLEN, stated that these statistics need to change, and by informing young people about opportunities in STEM, we can help to do this.

“This trip to Canberra, as well as the other activities they have participated in this year, have opened their eyes and inspired these young women to be more informed and ready to set the way for their futures in STEM,” Pam added.