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Women unite to boost girls in STEM

Over 124 female STEM professionals from around Australia answered the call-out to mentor 54 girls as part of the inaugural Curious Minds program.

Curious Minds is a six month learning and mentoring program that will enable girls to explore all aspects of STEM through guest lectures, interactive sessions, practicals and field trips.

The final group of 42 mentors were chosen based on their profession and geographic location – which will be used to match them up with the year 8, 9 and 10 girls attending the program.

Mentors and mentees first came together on 12 December 2015 at the Australian National University.

Dr Jen Walsh is a post-doctoral researcher in sleep physiology from the University of Western Australia.  As a mentor she is looking forward to encouraging young women to pursue a career in science.

“I feel very lucky to be working in such a stimulating and rewarding area”, says Dr Walsh. “I believe that women are well suited to STEM-related professions and I am excited to be able to support a young woman while she is venturing into this area.”

The mentors work in a variety of professions including: exploration geologist, cryptographer, engineer, medical researchers, wildlife forensic scientist, exercise physiologist, information security specialists, software engineer, reproductive biologist, STEM policy maker, science movie maker and marine biologist.

The mentoring program will see each student matched with a female mentor and together they will construct personal goals for the student. This might include discussing study options and career pathways, undertaking further extension work with support from their mentor, developing ideas based on learnings from the camp or working on a project.

Curious Minds is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training through the Restoring the Focus on STEM program (initiative) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Restoring the focus on STEM is about ensuring Australia’s young adults are equipped with the necessary skills for the economy of the future.
The program will be particularly targeted towards girls from underrepresented groups such as disadvantaged, rural/remote and Indigenous.