Girl Up was founded by the United Nations in 2010 and since then has been working through projects around the world to achieve gender equality. They have created various ways in which people internationally can come together and defend the rights of females. Some of their programs include advocacy, fundraising, leadership and STEAM and STEM workshops. STEM – the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and STEAM are almost identical in their pursuit, though the latter includes the Arts as well. The Girl Up movement hopes to encourage girls into careers in the technology industries.
Girl Up in Australia
The global movement had its first Australian summit in September 2019 in Sydney at The Women’s College. Ashleigh De Silva, Girl Up’s first regional leader, stated that the movement started in Sydney in 2018 and currently holds over 300 members. With an interview with CIO magazine, De Silva stated, “Girl Up is really passionate about getting girls into STEM because that’s something that’s been very male dominated for a very long time. So it’s great to get girls into that industry – it starts from the grassroots when girls are still in school and it’s important to foster that interest.”
Event speaker, Eliza Dawes, head of marketing for GitHub APAC, challenged summit attendees by asking, “So why choose something like STEM? If you want to change gender equality or fight climate change, STEM gives you the skills where you can actually do something about it. Without science or the ability to look at the data and collaborate with your colleagues, it’s difficult to really make an active change. There are lots of ways to do it, but STEM gives you the ability to create change in the world and solve problems.”
Australian girls in STEM
Australia’s STEM population is greatly made up of males. Women comprised only 17% of the qualified STEM population in 2016 and made up only 31% of the total number of STEM academics in 2016. Only 18% of Biology professors are female and this trend also continues in Engineering, seeing only 12.4% of the workforce there as female. The IT industry also is facing a similar issue with females making up 28% of the workforce in 2017.
STEMmates for girls in STEM
Like Girl Up, STEMmates hopes to encourage learners of all genders to defend gender equality and to become involved in STEM subjects. Through our hands-on courses and activity-based learning, we hope to spark an interest in young learners that will continue with them late into their careers. Get your child involved in our STEM courses today through our Facebook and website pages. Because when girls rise, we all rise!