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!
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.
These days, with the variety of ways children can find information, it is not uncommon to hear how the internet has become a primary source for their information. There is now a huge amount of information available online, from websites to blogs, to forums and even social media. With such a huge realm of knowledge that is readily available to them, how then, can we make school and the classrooms as enticing to this data-hungry generation and keep them coming back to gain the necessary skills they will need as adults?