STEM welcomes artistic types

Anne Simmons

There is a “real space” for artistic people in science, technology, engineering and maths careers, Gippsland Tech School’s Jacqueline Wilson says.

“Don’t just think a scientist is a person that sits in a lab,” Ms Wilson said.

“You can’t have advances and you can’t have all these wonderful things that we experience every day from our iPhones to our gaming platforms without creative people involved in technology.”

Ms Wilson is a developer of virtual and augmented reality worlds and is featured in an exhibition encouraging young women to take on traditionally male-dominated careers such as engineering.

Instead of filming a piece to camera, she told her story through an avatar in a 3D world.

On Thursday, December 13, about 75 year 9 students from across Gippsland worked through the interactive exhibition at the Gippsland Tech School and got a taste for what a career in a STEM field might be like.

Students deactivated a virtual bomb and coded a robot to move.

Ms Wilson’s career started when she decided she no longer wanted to pay someone else to fix her technology.

“When I went and actually learnt how to do it myself I discovered had a real passion for it and I could actually see all the future that was going to be very much wrapped in technology,” she said.

“Then about 10 years on I actually saw that we had gaping holes in our education system to expose and inspire our kids to the same fields so that’s when I got in the education side of technology.”

Being a woman is no barrier to working in these fields, Ms Wilson said.

“One of the things we need to do which is really important is we need to stop seeing the difference between women and men because that’s the only way we’re going to reach an equal platform,” Ms Wilson said.

“The world is changing and I think if we do put the ‘A’ into STEM and we go for STEAM, it’s just full steam ahead for all of us, women and men included.”

Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network executive officer Lisa Price said she hoped the exhibition would “light a spark” in the year 9 students.

The network will again in 2019 run a program for year 10 students called STEM Sisters which offers work placement opportunities and mentoring for women already established in STEM fields.

“One of our ambassadors said when she started they didn’t even have female toilets,” Ms Price said.

“[Employers] have been really supportive of the program because they can see the long-term benefits of getting more women into their workplaces.”

Today is the final day for the STEMPowered: Women In STEM Exhibition at Gippsland Tech School.