Students

Young women in STEM

Macinley Butson and Angelina Arora are smashing stereotypes in STEM with seriously impressive results – and they’re still in high school!

Statistically, it’s been proven that girls and boys are equally capable in STEM. But as girls get older, many start to lose confidence when it comes to STEM education subjects, and stop choosing them. Despite this, there are lots of inspiring young women making progress in cutting-edge STEM projects. They're leading the way for girls just like you.

Take Angelina Arora, for example. She invented her first biodegradable plastic when she was just 11 years old. At 16, she invented a prototype (an early model) for biodegradable plastic made from prawn shells. It saw her win big at the 2018 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

Angelina doesn’t feel that she was held back from participating in STEM subjects at her all-girls secondary school. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t experienced some setbacks along the way.

 

Bright minds of the future 

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Macinley Butson is another young woman doing awesome work in STEM. In 2019 she was a winner of the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards. Macinley also took home first prize in Translational Medical Science at the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her invention, SMART Armour. This is a device that helps shield women from the side-effects of radiation therapy treatment for breast cancer.

Macinley also started young – at just five years old! From kindergarten, she started building STEM projects out of whatever interested her at the time. And she entered every competition she could get her hands on.

‘I think the biggest myth would be that young people are incapable, which is completely untrue! Some of the biggest websites like Facebook or Reddit were conceptualised when the founder was young,’ says Macinley.

So, what’s the common denominator here?

Determination and paying no mind to the stereotypes seems to be their greatest strengths – aside from some punchy scientific talent, of course.

‘I think a good way to combat this problem is to normalise girls in STEM rather than sensationalise the lack of them,’ says Angelina.

As Macinley puts it, if the talent is there then it is just the stereotypes that need to change. ‘We need to begin changing this perception and believing in our next generation. They’re the bright young minds of the future.’

  • Boys outnumber girls

    3 to 1

    in year 12 physics classes.

  • In year 12 advanced maths classes, there are

    1.9

    male enrolments for every female.

  • At Australian universities,

    16%

    of STEM graduates are women.

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