Growing up with a scientist for a father my family dinner discussions often revolved around advances in medicine, astronomy and neuroscience. So, it never occurred to me as a young girl that my interest in maths or science wasn’t “normal”.
As a female cardiovascular disease researcher and passionate supporter of women in science, I was thrilled to see Quantum Physicist Michelle Simmons named 2018 Australian of the Year a couple of weeks ago. As I believe having strong role models and mentors is key for girls and women to pursue science in school, university and at the workplace.
Unfortunately, it’s still the case that only 16 per cent of Australians qualified in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. So, there is far more work to be done to encourage young women to consider a career a STEM field as an option for them and as something they might enjoy.
Young girls are just as good in maths and sciences as boys and I want my three daughters and other young girls to be confident in these areas and not shy away from pursuing a career in this field if they are interested.
In my experience science can be an incredibly rewarding career choice if you are curious, enjoy being intellectually challenged and want to contribute meaningfully towards solving some of the most pressing problems of our time.
However, young women will often move away from studying science in school after Year 10 and pursue what are perceived to be more typically “female” subjects, such as English or humanities. It’s thought that the misconception that women are not successful in STEM professions may contribute to this.