Queensland celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Girls and women of all ages have been urged to consider a career in the STEM fields at a breakfast event for students to celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said women were traditionally under-represented in STEM professions and encouraged girls and young women to consider science, technology, engineering or maths subjects and qualifications to ensure they have the skills needed for the jobs of the future.

“Schools across the state were invited to participate in the Brisbane event, where students had the opportunity to engage with scientists and learn more about STEM-based careers,” Ms Enoch said.   

“Schools outside south east Queensland were asked to host their own United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science breakfast and watch the event over web stream.

Speaking at the breakfast, Minister for Women Di Farmer said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to helping more women and girls engage with STEM as 2019 Australian Bureau of Statistics data found males are nearly five times more likely to gain a qualification in STEM than females.

“You can’t be what you can’t see, which is why it’s so important we celebrate the achievements of women working in STEM fields and highlight their successes,” she said.

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“It’s just as important for young women and girls to see that no matter what they want to do or achieve, whether in the sciences or in any other field, there are great women who have gone before them and climbed over every obstacle to show the next generation it can be done.”

Interim Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Paul Bertsch attended the event and spoke about the contribution science and scientists are making to Queensland.

“The event featured a question and answer session with a panel of female scientists, including agricultural and environmental scientist Cecile Godde who was a 2018 Queensland Women in STEM prize winner,” Professor Bertsch said.

“On this special day, it’s important we recognise the women working in various STEM fields to bring about improvements in our lives, whether that’s developing new robotics and technologies for agriculture, discovering new medicines or helping to protect the environment.

“There are many exceptional women who have applied for this year’s Queensland Women in STEM Prize. I encourage you to check out the applicants,” he said.

Each year Queensland women working in STEM are celebrated through the Queensland Women in STEM Prize, presented by Queensland Museum Network with support from the Queensland Government, through the Department of Environment and Science’s Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist and Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women’s Office for Women, and the BHP Foundation.

Ms Enoch and Ms Farmer together encouraged Queenslanders to go online and vote for their favourite STEM professional.

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“By voting in the competition, not only will you have a say in who wins, but you’ll also be amazed by the wonderful science happening across Queensland by hard-working women,” Ms Farmer said.

This state-wide competition is open to early to mid-career women working in STEM careers in Queensland with three cash prizes of $5000 available to support professional development opportunities. The prize categories are:

  • Jury Award presented to the most meritorious applicant, as determined by a panel of esteemed judges
  • People’s Choice Award presented to the applicant with the highest number of public votes
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Jury Award presented to the most meritorious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicant, as determined by a panel of esteemed judges.

To participate in the voting or for more information about the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize, visit the website.

Voting closes March 4, 2020, while winners will be announced in March during the World Science Festival Brisbane.