Lack of visible leads a factor in STEM participation

Monday, 08 March, 2021

Lack of visible leads a factor in STEM participation

According to research conducted by the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), one of the key factors contributing to low participation of females in STEM is a lack of female leads.

These findings are echoed in a federal government body of research and policy publication titled ‘Advancing Women in STEM’, championed by engineer and Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.

“I am passionate about seeing more women taking on STEM careers and working in manufacturing. Increasing women’s participation in STEM is not only important for women, it is vital for strengthening our economy and creating the jobs we need for the future,” said Minister Andrews.

Further research, conducted as part of AMGC’s 10 ways to succeed in Australian manufacturing report, involved focus groups of over 1000 students across the nation in which students were presented with information about what today’s manufacturing looks like.

Far from the outdated images of blue overalls and dark sheds, manufacturing today is as diverse as the population of Australia, covering every sector of the economy where something is being made. The information provided to all participants resulted in a 47% net increase in interest in a manufacturing career.

Women, in particular, said that having a better understanding of the industry’s opportunities and seeing themselves included in communications about manufacturing had a strong impact on their ‘mental availability’ to choosing manufacturing as a career path.

This is a point reinforced by Dr Heba Khamis, CEO of Contactile — a cutting-edge Sydney-based biomedical company specialising in bestowing robots with the sense of touch and human-like dexterity.

“A career in STEM is an opportunity to be on the cutting edge and work with the latest technology. These careers are the fastest-growing in the world, with high demand, high pay and a high level of job satisfaction.” said Dr Khamis.

Employing over 1.27 million Australians, modern manufacturing has evolved to encompass seven distinct steps along the manufacturing ‘smiley curve’ or value chain. These steps encompass roles in research and development, design, logistics, production, sales (including marketing and communications), service and support, and as such support a vast array of career options for prospective students in disciplines that are higher paid and more resilient that those that went before them.

To learn more about how Australian manufacturing is changing and the people driving the change, students, teachers, professionals and parents are encouraged to visit AMGC’s Manufacturing Academy to hear from leaders from across the manufacturing industry.

Image: Minister Karen Andrews talks with engineers. Supplied by Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources.

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