The Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science recently carried out a
15-minute online survey focusing on the attitudes and behavior of Australian students towards STEM education and STEM-related careers and industries. They commissioned a separate arm from the Student Edge’s market research team called YouthInsight, to conduct this study. The sample of surveyed participants included 2092 students aged 12 to 25 years from all over Australia. The report also targeted the issues with gender inequity currently being faced by members from STEM industries, education and career groups.
The Youth in STEM research report
Participants were asked a range of questions to determine their views on STEM and whether they recognized the acronym stood for. Fortunately, a high number – 62% of the surveyed group – did! And more than half of the students surveyed also admitted to considering studying STEM-related subjects in the future.
However, the study still showed there was a shift towards males preferring
STEM subjects than females. This trend continued when asked about STEM-related careers. More males were certain about pursuing professions in STEM-related roles than females. The younger generation that was surveyed were the ones to have the least interest and understanding in these subjects.
Most students who showed little interest in STEM-related subjects seemed to feel that way because of a lack of confidence in these subjects. They also believed that their low confidence was due to a lack of understanding in mathematics and that engineering was a “hard” subject. They also were a little confused with the word, “technology”, perceiving themselves as “non-techy” people and therefore not even considering studying any subject related to this field.
An interesting insight that came out of the survey, was that the numbers of students who highlighted the fact that their parent’s decisions were the most influential in their choice of subject for future study and career choice. This feature was more prominent in female than male participants. Friends and teachers were the next most influential people in their subject choices. Another interesting factor was that males seemed to be more concerned with choosing future subjects and careers based on external influences such as “YouTube” and the females were more inspired by an “ambition to change the world”.
Cultivating Curiosity, Imagination and Passion for STEM
Students that walk through the doors of all STEMmates workshops come from all backgrounds and walks of life. We hope that no matter what their current attitude about STEM subjects, our specially designed courses will steer them in a direction where they will be encouraged to continue their journey in STEM long into their futures. Our hands-on and activity-based lessons are designed to inspire students from young ages, despite their gender, to be excited about STEM subjects. Find out how you can get your child involved in our courses through our
website and Facebook pages.
Florence Violet Mckenzie, or Mrs Mac, as she was more affectionately known as, was born in 1890 and would devote the bigger part of her life to engineering in Australia. Unlike many of her male counterparts, Florence’s name is barely recognized around the country despite her service to it. McKenzie was Australia’s very first electrical engineer, first female amateur radio operator and she also later became the founder of the Electrical Association for Women.
During World War II, Florence created the Women’s Emergency Signaling Corps and some of her trainees were asked to work for the Royal Australian Navy. Her original idea was to train women to learn communications so that the men could serve the country in the war. The project was eventually known as the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. She also trained about 12,000 servicemen in her Morse code training school. Between 1918 and 1934, she had her own successful electrical contracting and wireless supplies business and here, all her work was done pro bono.
McKenzie was also in correspondence with Albert Einstein in the years from 1949 leading up to the time he died. She would send him letters and gifts from all over the world, brought to her by her airline pilot friends.
Later elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Navigation and a Member of the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society, when she died in 1982, she said,
“…it is finished, and I have proved to them all that women can be as good as, or better than men.”
Not everything was smooth sailing for Florence and her signalling “girls in green”. She had to design a uniform for them to make it very clear to the rest of the world that their service and motive was true. The navy also had to be convinced to let them work, and later, kept them a secret.
STEM Superwomen of today
STEM refers to science, technology, math and engineering. More and more companies and organizations from all industries are realizing the importance of women taking charge and joining STEM industries.
For example, earlier this year, the Bauer Media, the owner of brands like Women’s Weekly, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar, joined forces with Elucent Skincare to find the next
STEM superwoman. They advertised an AUD$20,000 grant for the winning participant who would join Elucent Skincare’s microbiologist Alexandra Kite in her work as a beauty scientist.
STEMmates’ goal is to empower all the children, male or female, that pass through our doors, to become the supermen and superwomen that they are.
Our courses are designed to teach them skills that will follow them into their adult years.
Give your child the chance to wear that cape today. Sign up for our STEM courses through our
Facebook and website pages.
In 2015, the government launched
NISA, the National Innovation and Science Agenda. This initiative was to focus on culture and capital, collaboration, talent and skills and the government as an example, for a period of 4 years. This year, however, marks the final year of this AUD$1.1 billion-dollar project. The recent 2019 budget announcements have not clearly stated what the government’s plan for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) will be over the next couple of years. They have focused on public outreach and engagement, VET or vocational education and training – lifelong learning through STEM education and continued support of the National Science and Technology Council. They are yet to provided figures to show their intentions in the field of research and development or how they plan to fund any new STEM initiatives.
Is this support fading?
Research and study
figures have shown that due to various reasons, the government’s support of research and development seems to have been fading since 2006. In order to make sure that Australia doesn’t fall behind, the minimum investment in these fields has been estimated at 3% of our gross domestic product, or GDP, by the year 2030. Something has to be done soon in order to make sure that promises of boosting Australia’s economy of knowledge do not fall through the cracks. Australia is still without a Minister for Science, and this could be the reason that efforts in Australia’s research and development fields are lacking.
Science’s future in Australia
200 scientists and technologists will meet with the senators and ministers in parliament in Canberra
in November this year as part of a program called, Science Meets Parliament. This meeting will serve to find solutions to the scientific challenges that are currently being faced in Australia, particularly how STEM can be involved in policy-making. The first session in 2015 discussed the topic, “Can STEM Save South Australia?”, which proved to be a great success which led to many future events being planned. Hopefully, this year’s meeting will continue to produce similar beneficial results.
STEMmates and Science
At STEMmates, we believe that the world is moving rapidly towards a world revolving around STEM concepts, teachings, skills and subjects. therefore, we want to make sure that the youth of today are ready for this STEM-focused economy of tomorrow. Our courses are designed to teach students important and relevant skills, both soft and technical. Hands-on activities and problem-based learning teach students fundamental concepts of STEM. Through experiments, enquiry and teacher-facilitated discussions, students learn how to analyse and think critically, communicate well and interact with their peers. For more information on our workshops and programs to help children prepare for tomorrow visit our
Facebook and blog pages.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM – is an acronym that cannot be ignored anymore. As the world advances and technological improvements continue, the need for new skills is increasing. Australia’s mining sector is also slowly taking a back seat while STEM industries emerge to take on the challenges posed by an ever-evolving and dynamic global economy.
Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC), if we changed just 1% of the current workforce’s roles into STEM-related positions, it could add AUD$57.3 billion back to Australia’s gross domestic product or GDP. They also mention that if Australia fails to take this leap, we could drop out of the world’s top 20 best economies by the year 2050.
Preparing Tomorrow’s Innovators
In order for Australia to be competitive in this relatively new STEM game, our workforce needs to be skilled enough to play. In 2015, the government launched the National Education STEM Strategy as part of a National Innovation and Science Agenda. AUD$65 million has been put aside for both the development of teachers and for specialized STEM programs in classrooms. The public library system also now offers programs and services to encourage more interest in STEM subjects. It is also our responsibility as adults to educate our young about the demand and necessity to be in tune with these subjects. We also need to continue upgrading ourselves in order to be able to pass the knowledge on to our country’s future innovators, researchers and leaders.
Teach STEM as a career
Many educational institutions and universities around the country now offer various courses, scholarships and internships for people aspiring to improve their STEM abilities and gain the credentials to teach. For example,
Monash offers a graduate certification in STEM education. The government has also introduced the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarship Program for up to AUD$18,000 per individual to study at a vocational education institution or university.
There is also the Goldsmith Family Women in STEM scholarship which is aimed at Australian residents with an ATAR in the 90
th percentile. It offers individuals AUD$7,500 a year for each of their years of study and aims to entice more females to take on careers in STEM industries.
At STEMmates, our highly qualified teachers have gone through rigorous educational programs and constantly interact with parents of our students in hopes of building our STEMmates community. We look forward to more expressions of interest to grow this community of parents, friends and educators, who share in the vision of cultivating curiosity, imagination and passion for STEM. Find out how to get your children involved in our STEM-related courses through our
Facebook and website pages.
blog post spoke about how crucial parental involvement can be in a child’s education, especially in their formative years. Educators also play a huge role in determining how a child will develop in school – setting the tone and pace for further development in their later years as students and learners. Here, we look at some ways parents and educators can work together to create a bond and thereby helping to make a safe space for the children in schools.
New addition of STEM in the media
There has been a lot of mention of STEM and its progress in the media since the term was first coined in 2001. STEM refers to the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related subjects. This revolutionary way to look at education has taken over curriculums around the world. Australia has been one of the countries trying to get schools more involved and focused on the excellent skills that STEM-educated children can achieve.