As a woman who studied science, I know how important it is to have strong role models in STEM to look up to. STEM is a term to describe a group of academic disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In an age of climate change and growing populations, STEM roles are crucial and growing.
‘The Australian Government regards high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education as critically important for our current and future productivity, as well as for informed personal decision making and effective community, national and global citizenship.’
Classically, STEM roles have been male-dominated and for various reasons have kept females away from these fields. Globally, there is a significant disparity between male and females in STEM, and particularly, in senior positions. It has been suggested that this is due to a lack of representation of females in STEM and therefore they are less likely to pursue these careers.
“A barrier for young girls contemplating STEM is a clear lack of female role models within the field. Lack of female representation within associated professions means that girls may view careers with an additional challenge of having to prove oneself in being ‘one of the guys’. The authors suggest teachers provide role models for young girls, who can provide authentic and realistic images of their careers with the aim of increasing motivation to study maths and science.” – ‘Trend Analysis: Gender in STEM’ study by the National Expert Organisation on Girls / Women and Science / Technology (VHTO)
Thankfully the issue of misrepresentation is changing, and there are a growing group of badass females kicking down doors and breaking stereotypes in the STEM world. The below are just eight of a very VERY long list.
1. Professor Emma Johnston AO
If there’s ever a badass female to admire, Professor Emma Johnston is a strong start. Johnston is the Dean of Science at UNSW Sydney and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW Sydney. Her research takes her out in the field to environments such as the Great Barrier Reef to investigate ecotoxicology. She is also taking science to the masses, presenting on various TV and radio shows such as ABC Catalyst. Oh, and she has also been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, “AO”.
— Prof Emma L Johnston (@DrEmmaLJohnston) May 18, 2017
2. Karlie Noon
Karlie Noon is a young Indigenous Astronomer making waves in the astronomy and astrophysics world. She has brought diversity into a classically white male field and was the first Indigenous Australian in NSW to be awarded a Bachelor of Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science (and now she’s studying her Masters at ANU). Noon is also relatable, adding a cool edge to science with her green hair, piercings and tattoos. She makes space cool and is currently looking into Indigenous astronomy – watch this space!
Related Post: Women’s Surfing Riding Wave Towards Gender Equity
3. Ocean Ramsey
With 90 percent of the world’s shark population already gone as a result of human activities such as culling, we need activists like Ocean Ramsey. Ramsey is a marine scientist, professional freediver and scuba instructor, shark and marine conservationist and model, all rolled into one. She regularly dives with “scary sharks” such as the Great White and tiger sharks for research and proves that as a woman, you can be multi-faceted.
So much of our actions as a human population today will determine what kind of world the next generation comes into and grows up in. I love the development of science, technology…” – Ocean Ramsey
4. Dr Rebecca Van Amber
Fashion is a global issue both environmentally and ethically, with fabric being a significant part of this damage. Research and innovation in materials development is an in-demand and exciting sector. Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) recently found a way to utilise old denim destined for landfill, into ultrafine coloured particles to be reused for new denim dye. This discovery has the potential to dramatically reduce water, heat and energy in the denim dyeing process. Dr Rebecca Van Amber was one of the researchers that discovered this significant find. She also works on the effect of textiles on human health and other natural fabric fibres, potentially changing the world of fashion from her lab.
5. Xyla Foxlin
If you watch any of Xyla’s videos on Youtube, you know she’s a pretty cool role model. She’s an entrepreneur, mechanical engineer and artist, and the CEO and founder of Parihug. Parihug is a company that produces technological toys, which allows you to hug your loved ones from afar (it’s pretty amazing!).
Xyla strives to be the woman she wish she had to look up to growing up: passionate and invested in what she does technically…After years of being told girls can’t build robots or fly airplanes, Xyla tries to spend as much time volunteering with elementary schools to make sure they don’t feel the same way.’ – Meet Xyla website
6. Noramay Cadena
Make in LA is LA’s only hardware-focused accelerator for startups, and Mathematician Noramay Cadena is the Cofounder. Cadena has an unbelievably long list of achievements, from an advisor to the Latinas in STEM Foundation, to an MBA graduate from MIT. She is an impressive person and all round great female role model.
7. Jessi Baker
Jessi Baker is an engineer, designer and social thinker, making her a highly creative and strategic individual. Baker is a University of Cambridge Alumni and the Founder of tech company Provenance. The company specialises in bringing transparency to product supply chains, through technology. This brilliant woman in STEM is using tech to create circular economies, which is why Forbes included her in their recent roundup of 46 Sustainability Leaders (who are also women).
8. Katerina Kimmorley
Katerina Kimmorley is a woman that has already changed the world, working in renewable energy economics. One of her many achievements is co-founding the social enterprise Pollinate Energy, which “sets up entrepreneurs to distribute sustainable technologies such as solar lights in India and Nepal”.
Phew, I feel so proud of my gender right now.
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Title image of Ocean Ramsey at speaking at TEDxKlagenfurt 2015