STEM sisters doing it for themselves

An extra-curricular program encouraging female high school students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and maths was launched in Trafalgar last week.

Hosted by Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network, 32 year 10 students from eight different schools from across the region participated in a program induction evening with a range of guest speakers.

Baw Baw LLEN partnerships broker Jenni Graham said the 12-month program aimed to increase participating students’ interest in STEM subjects and help them learn about careers in related industries and sectors.

“There is evidence that there is not a lot of females in those sorts of careers,” she said.

“STEM subjects are often stereotyped as being predominantly as a male’s or a boy’s job to do. Often the role models [are men] as well, so we are also trying to encourage parents to encourage girls into these sorts of fields as well.”

Ms Graham said the program would hold a range of activities throughout the year.

“We’re doing a local industry tour and a Melbourne industry tour,” she said.

“[We’ve got] seven or eight local industries on board where we will take the girls out and visit Gippsland Water, AGL Loy Yang, Baw Baw Shire, Latrobe City.

“There are a few other organisations on board that have scientists, engineers, mathematicians to get the girls to see what they mightn’t know about otherwise.”

The STEM Sisters program will also assist participants in gaining work experience with partner companies and organisations, so students can get a taste of what STEM industries are really like.

“Our theme for this program is ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’, so it is to give them exposure to areas that they might have not have heard of or careers that they mightn’t even know about, to encourage girls and women into fields that are under-represented,” Ms Graham said.

The STEM Sisters program will hold a number of other events over the next year.

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