Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, believes this problem can be solved by embracing a diverse workforce and improving the visibility of science careers.
Currently, only 9 per cent of tertiary students studying for STEM-related qualifications are women.
Evidence shows us that schools play a critical role in supporting girls' interest and confidence in STEM.
Teachers and school leaders can support girls to become more confident in STEM by creating an environment that fosters equity for all students. The Girls in STEM Toolkit (The GiST), developed by Education Services Australia (ESA) on behalf of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, has a range of resources, including practical classroom strategies and engaging lesson plans, developed specifically for this purpose.
A great starting point for teachers interested in creating more engaging STEM classrooms is the Classroom strategies for inclusive STEM learning environments guide. The guide includes a summary of the GiST's Seven principles for a gender-inclusive learning environment, with practical strategies and contemporary resources that teachers can use to bring these critical principles to life to create an engaging and inclusive STEM classroom.
There are also a variety of gender-neutral STEM lesson plans available for years 5–6, 7–8 and 9–10. For example, students can explore Bee habitats and learn more about drones in our Drone search lesson. For the more environmentally-minded students, the Green packaging lessons will ignite their curiosity and engage their minds.
Another way to inspire more girls in STEM is to pencil important days into your calendar and celebrate them with some of these activities:
Below are some significant STEM dates to celebrate with your students to highlight the importance and contributions of women in STEM.
Inspiring girls to pursue STEM-related subjects and careers doesn't stop in the classroom. The involvement of family, especially parents, in STEM learning experiences is invaluable in providing support for girls engaging in STEM experiences.
The GiST community engagement kit has been designed to ensure that parents, teachers, students and school communities have access to resources designed to encourage and inspire more girls in STEM.
It includes ready-to-go information and materials to help your school spread the word about the importance of creating more – and better – opportunities for girls and women in STEM.