SAGE welcomes $13m to encourage women and girls into STEM

08 December 2015

Nalini Joshi, Co-Chairwoman of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Forum, formed earlier this year to address the chronic underrepresentation of women in STEM, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Federal Government’s $1 billion innovation package will include $13 million to expand opportunities for women in STEM. Writing for the Conversation, Professor Joshi, Chair of Applied Mathematics at Sydney University, said that “the sky is the limit, if we could attract and retain talented women in the pipleline”, however while the “proportion of women studying sciences at postgraduate level has increased since 2001, the proportion at the senior level has barely moved”. In fact, she says: “It is clear that women leave the scientific workforce in droves.”

In September when SAGE was launched, six female scientists reflected on their experiences in STEM and commented on the significance of the SAGE initiative. Interviewees for the Conversation article included Professor Joshi; Tanya Monro, Professor of Physics and Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Innovation, University of South Australia (and alumna of SCEGGS Darlinghurst, NSW); and Professor Suzanne Cory, Molecular Biologist and Immediate Past President of the Australian Academy of Science (alumna of Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College and University High, VIC). Professor Monro commented that Australia attracts “outstandingly capable” women into STEM, but is unable to keep them due to the current work system of multiple short-term contracts. “We simply can’t afford to lose half our talent pool if we want science and technology to play a major role in transforming Australia’s future.”