Schools

Career education in STEM

It's no secret ...

... that many more Australian boys and men participate in STEM education and employment than Australian girls and women.

Women in STEM Decadal Plan

The Women in STEM Decadal Plan, published by the Australian Academy of Science, states that 'women make up only 16 per cent of the STEM skilled workforce'. Women make up 9 per cent of VET-qualified workers in STEM fields, and 29 per cent of university-qualified workers in STEM.

These statistics are worrying in terms of economy and innovation, quality of research, social justice and labour market balance.

The Women in STEM Decadal Plan offers an ‘attract–retain–progress’ framework for understanding the challenges women face in STEM careers.

  • In its discussion of encouraging girls and women to consider STEM as a career option, the plan considers challenges such as societal norms, gender stereotyping and the pay gap.

  • The statistics surrounding retention show that even in fields where women are greatly represented (50 per cent or more), these numbers drastically reduce after the mid-career stage.

  • Progression relates directly to retention, and covers the challenges women face in moving to the top levels of their chosen career. The plan highlights challenges women face in the form of ‘gender-based discrimination, bullying and harassment, gendered expectations around caring responsibilities, lack of flexible work options, biased assessments of merit’ and a lack of mentoring opportunities.  

Closing the gap

As career educators and professionals, it is our duty to help close the gap and to educate students, parents and other teachers about the importance of encouraging and inspiring girls to consider STEM subjects and careers. A recent report for the Office of the Chief Scientist into Australia’s fastest growing industries highlights the need to improve Australia’s STEM capability in education and work.

'STEM skills and knowledge will be key to unlocking future jobs, not only within the STEM fields but across all industries' (Deloitte 2014).

What is not always clear to students, parents and educators is that STEM skills are broadly beneficial and transferable across industries and roles that involve critical thinking and problem-solving, analytic capabilities, curiosity and imagination (PwC 2015). All these have been identified as critical ‘survival skills’ in the workplace of the future.

Opportunities across STEM

'Today’s young people are likely to change jobs 17 times across five different careers in their working lives' (FYA 2017).

The ability to make these transitions will partly depend on the skills that young people acquire at school – and on their sense of flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Given the diversity of skills young people will require to thrive in the future workforce, it is essential that we educate them about the transferability of STEM discipline skills across many different careers and opportunities.

See below for a set of resources curated specifically to assist you as a dedicated specialist providing career development education. These resources are designed for use within STEM-related career education classes, to highlight opportunity awareness and labour market information, to provide inspirational female role models, and to help students understand the broader concept of STEM as an innovative and important industry. Through these resources, career educators and specialists can start to disprove STEM stereotypes and encourage girls to view themselves as tomorrow’s leaders.

Resources

  • Careers with STEM

    A list of job options relating to careers in science.

    Field: Science
  • Careers with STEM

    Profiles of impressive and inspirational Women in STEM to aid discussions relating to pathways and the nature of work.

    Field: all STEM
  • AMSI

    Hundreds of maths careers profiles, videos and jobs.

    Field: Maths
  • Australia’s Science Channel

    A range of women in STEM videos that encourage girls to see themselves within the broad range of STEM careers.

    Field: all STEM
  • Books to inspire Girls in STEM

    Lists of fiction and non-fiction books, ‘all designed to inform, inspire and entertain girls.

    Field: all STEM
  • Born to engineer

    A number of featured resources including engaging and thought-provoking podcasts, news on events and masterclasses and much more.

    Field: Science, Engineering
  • C&EN (Chemical and engineering news)

    An article discussing the world of work and how students might navigate potential challenges and change the status quo.

    Field: Science
  • Careers with STEM

    The ‘Get career basics’ section is filled with resources to share in class and in sessions with students.

    Field: all STEM
  • Engineers Australia

    This resource gives useful examples of STEM pathways and some of the impacts on society that engineers can have.

    Field: Engineering
  • Filmpond partnership with the NSW Department of Education

    ‘The place where school teams can create, publish and share films with a focus on innovative and successful learning and teaching.’

    Field: all STEM
  • Future Morph

    Contains ‘resources, useful information, case studies and a resources database linking to helpful external websites’.

    Field: all STEM
  • Girls’ future – Our future: The Invergowrie Foundation STEM report

    A report focusing on why many girls do not do STEM subjects at school or pursue STEM careers.

    Field: all STEM
  • Government of SA – Office for Women

    Resources to guide students at every stage of their STEM journey, from subject selection to pathways and future careers.

    Field: all STEM
  • Gradaustralia: The STEM guide

    A girls’ guide to great careers in STEM, including information on degrees, industries, Women in STEM, ‘how to get hired’ and ‘surviving and thriving’.

    Field: all STEM
  • In2science: STEM peer mentoring in schools

    In2science ‘places STEM university students into high schools as peer mentors’.

    Field: Science
  • Monash University STEM talks

    Videos of some leading scientists giving insights into the challenges and successes of cutting-edge STEM research.

    Field: all STEM
  • Optimising STEM industry–school partnerships

    A paper compiled by the STEM Partnerships Forum, containing interesting research into STEM in education and work.

    Field: all STEM
  • Queensland STEM Education Network

    Downloadable infographic posters for the classroom.

    Field: all STEM
  • Science and Technology Australia

    Profiles of the ‘2019 Superstars of STEM’, containing many inspirational female STEM role models.

    Field: all STEM
  • Science explorers

    A site aimed at those involved with children/students aged 4–11. Gives clear reasons for encouraging students to enjoy STEM early.

    Field: all STEM
  • Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance

    Video profiles of 19 female role models and entrepreneurs from STEM fields.

    Field: all STEM
  • STEM hub

    A site with sections including ‘STEM careers and pathways’ and ‘STEM Girl Power!'

    Field: all STEM
  • Talk nerdy.

    A useful case study about one woman’s fascinating and diverse career journey

    Field: Science
  • The femmes of STEM

    Blogs and articles on historical Women in STEM to inspire and inform.

    Field: all STEM
  • Your guide to STEM: The careers of the future

    Statistics about the future of Australia's STEM workforce.

    Field: all STEM
  • UN STEM news

    United Nations news from around the world, giving Women in STEM a global focus and perspective.

    Field: all STEM
  • Women you should know

    Downloadable STEM role-model posters that celebrate women innovators. Illustrated by women.

    Field: all STEM
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