Women in Western Sydney left behind by tech revolution
The women of Western Sydney risk being left behind by the science and technology boom out west without a shake up to the sector to break down stereotypes and create more opportunities to learn and work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8), the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue is calling on the NSW Government to establish a Women in STEM Ambassador to accelerate the participation of women studying and working in STEM, particularly in Greater Western Sydney.
“Less than 1 in 5 STEM workers from Greater Western Sydney are female and only 11% of Engineering qualification holders in Greater Western Sydney are female,” Dialogue Executive Director, Adam Leto said.
“A Women in STEM Ambassador should be established by the NSW Government to help our schools break down gender stereotypes for women in STEM, provide role models for young girls and mobilise educators, government and industry to break down barriers for women to take part in the technology revolution that is emerging in Greater Western Sydney.
“The women of the West have a golden opportunity to drive the science, technology and innovation future of their region but they are being left behind.”
With multi-billion dollar investments in the science and innovation precincts in the new city of Bradfield, Western Sydney Aerotropolis and Sydney Science Park, Greater Western Sydney can be the national centre for engineering smart manufacturing and science in Australia.”
Dana Apoderado, 20, is a third-year Mechanical Engineering student at UTS. A resident of Revesby Heights, she decided to study a STEM subject because she had a passion for machines, technology, robotics and manufacturing.
Dana says about 1 in 10 students in her mechanical engineering classes are female and studying the subject can be an “isolating experience”.
“I often find myself needing to put in more effort when trying to integrate myself with a group of guys,” she said.
“There’s also this fear of incompetence because I lacked experience or exposure to skills that might be considered common knowledge by my male classmates like using power tools.
“I think providing women with more exposure to what STEM is at a younger age and more hands-on learning experiences might help women develop confidence in their ability to create and design things related to the STEM field.”
Dana also wants the opportunity to get a job at the same time as living in Greater Western Sydney.
“An opportunity to work in the community I grew up in would mean a lot to me,” she said.
“I’d also hope that working in Western Sydney would mean I could become more involved in helping build up the STEM community there”.
Hands-on experience in the region is pivotal in breaking down gender stereotypes and boosting female participation in STEM.
Celestino’s Sydney Science Park STEM Schools Challenge, initially developed in collaboration with the Association of Independent Schools (NSW), CSIRO Urban Living Lab and industry, has expanded into a public and independent school program that takes learning out of the classroom and seeks to develop the skills of school-age children to fulfill the needs of establishing, living and working within the smart cities of the future.
Students are tasked with creating innovative, non-business as usual solutions and concepts for sustainable, resilient, liveable towns and cities using Sydney Science Park as its centrepiece.
“More must be done to inspire young people, particularly young women students,” said Duncan Challen, Sydney Science Park’s General Manager, Business Development.
“Celestino is striving to support the rethinking and reimagining of the current STEM school curriculum, including the adoption of an integrated transdisciplinary and real-life project approach to STEM learning. It is hoped this approach will also help contribute to improving female participation and long term engagement in STEM.”
For media information
Nicholas Rupolo – Communications Officer Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue
0468 921 230