Superstars championing change for women in STEM

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12 November 2021

Science and Technology Australia (STA) has released data on the impacts of its Superstars of STEM initative.

The program aims to eliminate gender stereotypes and increase women’s representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

STA has appointed 150 talented women from diverse backgrounds to the program over the past 5 years. The Superstars include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women of colour, LGBTQI+ women, and women from underrepresented disciplines like engineering and information technology (IT).

The incredible cohort is working hard to increase women’s visibility in STEM. They’ve been out and about – on TV, on radio, in the news online, on social media and in classrooms.

In the past 6 months alone the Superstars have reached:

  • more than 93 million people through traditional media
  • 2.2 million people through social media.

Importantly, they also serve as role models for girls and young women, showcasing different pathways to exciting STEM careers. Since the initiative began in 2017, the Superstars have:

  • engaged with more than 33,000 kids
  • visited 237 schools to inspire the next generation of women in STEM
  • earned over 6,100 media mentions.

On top of this, the program is delivering development opportunities to the Superstars themselves:

  • 80% reported an increase in their media skills
  • 73% said their leadership performance has improved
  • 89% think the program has improved how others perceive them.

Watch the video

The Hon Melissa Price, Minister for Science and Technology: Since it started in 2017, Superstars of STEM has grown from strength to strength, creating visible role models for girls and young women, right around the country. The program addresses the conundrum. That is, if you can't see it, you can't be it. It helps Australia's leading female scientists and researchers be a visible inspiration for our next generation of STEM Superstars.

Dr Jiao Jiao Li, biomedical engineer: I feel so fulfilled at the end of each school visit to think that I might have just motivated another bright, young mind to become the scientist or engineer, or medical specialist of tomorrow.

Dr Cayt Rowe, operations analyst: The program has given me training in all types of communication.

Grace Lethlean, entrepreneur and digital health specialist: This program has immediately increased my communication skills, which is paying off in my work on a day-to-day basis and being noticed by my colleagues and network.

Dr Jiao Jiao Li: I recently won the Falling Walls Lab Australia final, and I'll representing Australia in the global final in November. I don't think I could have possibly done this without our Superstars communication training.

Dr Heather Handley, volcano scientist: The program is helping my career by raising my visibility, enabling me to reach a wider audience to communicate my science. 

Grace Lethlean: It's vital, we see more women in the media talking about science and technology.

Dr Heather Handley, volcano scientist: The more that happens, the more girls will choose to study STEM and become

Grace Lethlean: an entrepreneur

Dr Cayt Rowe: or a scientist

Dr Yee Lian Chew, neurochemist: or an engineer.

Dr Jiao Jiao Li: And after all

Dr Noushin Nasari, nanotechnologist: you can't be

Dr Divya Mehta, geneticist: what you cannot see.

Dr Cayt Rowe: My dream is that today's young people will encounter such a mix of gender and backgrounds in their engineering and scientists role models, that they don't even question whether they could do that job.

Minister Price: The Superstars of STEM Program is a fantastic example of how the government's investments are helping to bring positive change. A very big thank you to all our Superstars of STEM for your fantastic work, and my very best wishes for the future.

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