From radiologist to pilot, the future is bright for a group of high school girls who met at the University of Wollongong to learn about their future opportunities in STEM.
EmpowerHER STEM is a school holiday event to inspire girls to enrol in science technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects.
Year 11 Woonoona High School student Anderson Moller attended the two-day event on September 26 and was inspired by "seeing so many different passions from so many different women".
"Everyone here is so passionate about different aspects of STEM. The girls I'm with one of them wants to be a radiologist and the other one wants to be a haematologist," Miss Moller said.
The inaugural summit invited 42 female high school students from the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, South-West Sydney, and the Sutherland Shire to the University of Wollongong (UOW).
Some activities included webpage designs, a sustainable building challenge, water detection, and creating art from 3D printed recycled plastic.
"I like how in every aspect of STEM science, technology, engineering, and maths can answer almost every question that I've got about anything in the universe," Anderson Moller said.
She hopes to become a pilot but knows for certain that her future is one in STEM.
"Today's been really inspiring it's opened up a lot of new opportunities for passions that I wasn't expecting."
Across Australia, the proportion of women in a STEM qualified occupation in 2022 is 15 per cent, according to the Australian Government's STEM Equity Monitor.
When the equity monitor was released in July 2023, the CEO of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) said girls and women should be encouraged to pursue STEM in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
"The 2023 STEM Equity Monitor highlights that only one in five girls aspire to a career in STEM in the future," Kylie Walker said in a statement.
"Even more concerning is that girls remain least interested in engineering - and the need for engineers is growing sharply,
"According to federal government predictions, we'll need 27,000 new engineers over the next five years and even more beyond that."
The program specifically invited years nine to eleven students which UOW events and program manager, Lani Madigan said are in the prime age bracket to choose STEM subjects and make decisions for life long goals.
Seven students were sponsored to join the summit from low socio-economic and First Nations backgrounds.
This comes as Australia's national science agency CSIRO has ensured more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people pursue a future in STEM at the University of Wollongong.
CSIRO gifted a further half a million dollars towards the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship to ensure it continues.
The scholarship provides one new student with $5000 each year for the duration of their degree.
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