STEM is the acronym for:
SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENGINEERING MATHEMATICS

These disciplines involve many overlapping skills that are highly sought after by employers and industry. Jobs of the future will increasingly require and demand STEM skills at the most basic level. Students should be encouraged to embrace these disciplines.

This module aims to expel some of the myths surrounding the disciplines, and inspire students to broaden their horizons and give it a go.

On completion of this module students should:

  • Understand that STEM skills are used in everyday life
  • Understand and explore the way science and scientific skills are used in a range of jobs and careers
  • Understand and explore the way technology and technological skills are used in a range of jobs and careers
  • Understand and explore the way engineering and engineering skills are used in a range of jobs and careers
  • Understand and explore the way mathematics and mathematical skills are used in a range of jobs and careers
  • Understand the way mathematics is used in everyday life
  • Understand the importance of the involvement of both men and women in STEM for future innovation and growth
  • Be confident that it is never too late to consider a career in STEM
Some students approach STEM with trepidation, but STEM isn't just about learning facts and figures. STEM is also about encouraging and inspiring young people to engage more fully in the world around them. When students begin to understand that they are using STEM-related tools every day, and when they begin to understand that STEM touches every aspect of their lives, they can then imagine themselves as part of an exciting employment future.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS.

Getting students to describe each of these in a sentence will give you an idea of their understanding. It will also require them to think more deeply into the meaning. This activity is a valuable starting point for the next section.

STEM helps us:

  • Understand and investigate the world around us
  • Solve problems and apply solutions
  • Make stuff
  • 3D animator
  • Air traffic controller
  • Animal trainer
  • Archaeologist
  • Astronomer
  • Audio engineer
  • Automotive designer
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Building inspector
  • Climate scientist
  • Computer software developer
  • Dental hygienist
  • Doctor
  • Economist
  • Electrical engineer
  • Emergency management
  • Environmental scientist
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Food technologist
  • Forester
  • Geologist
  • STEM teacher
  • Horticulturalist
  • Landscape architect
  • Marine biologist
  • Mathematician
  • Medical roboticist
  • Microbiologist
  • Museum conservator
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Nutritionist
  • Oceanographer
  • Orthodontist
  • Paramedic
  • Pharmacist
  • Physical therapist
  • Safety engineer
  • Science illustrator
  • Special effects technician
  • Statistician
  • Vet
  • Video game designer
For a bit of fun and thought! As an extension, you might like to get your students to investigate one of the suggested careers.
Science
  • Is sometimes referred to as the 'art of discovery'
  • Is underpinned by the Scientific Method
  • Covers biology, chemistry, physics and geology
  • Is easy once you know how

Science enables us to discover information about the world around us and organise it into patterns that make sense. It is all about the phenomenon of the natural world, the earth and space, the seasons, plants and animals. Science is about the way we use natural resources for power, heat and transport. It encompasses advances in health, space exploration and is responsible for incredible world changing discoveries.

It would be difficult to imagine what our lives would be without the discovery or development of

  • The Solar System
  • Electricity
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • X-Ray
  • DNA
  • Quantum Theory


  • Gravity
  • The Theory of Evolution
  • Periodic Table
  • Penicillin
  • HIV/AIDS

When some think of science, they either imagine very smart people wearing white lab coats, holding clipboards and doing weird stuff with bubbling beakers or perhaps the incomprehensible banter of the geeks from 'The Big Bang Theory'. But really, science is about asking questions – and then coming up with ways (experiments) of answering those questions. It's critical and creative thinking in action, and something that humans do all the time. (Young children do it constantly as they learn about the world around them.)

If students hold any preconceived ideas about the possibilities of a future in science, go over some facts and fiction.

FICTION : You need to be good at maths to have a career in science.

FACT : Not necessarily. You don't need to be a maths genius (or even like maths) to be able to move into many areas of the sciences including biology, zoology or even medicine. Basic school maths serves you very well (any subject-specific maths you need is covered at university.) Any maths you do need to learn can be learned in your first year of university or in ‘bridging courses' before starting your degree. There is plenty of support at university for science students struggling with maths – in fact it's only the physicists and mathematicians who don't struggle with maths to some degree!

FICTION : You have to study forever to be a scientist.

FACT : While some scientists do study for years, it's not necessary for many people who end up working in scientific fields. A Bachelor of Science is three years' full-time study and many people leave university and enter the workforce after this.

FICTION : I'm a creative type so science isn't for me.

FACT : It's often thought that people are either creative/arts types or science types. However, many people mix the two or move from one area to another over their lifetime. Creativity is a fundamental part of scientific research. Albert Einstein's creative thinking spawned his theories of the universe. As he said, ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun'.

FICTION : I don't really like books and spending time on the computer, I much prefer being outside so science isn't for me.

FACT : As children, many scientists hated being cooped up inside and were constantly outside discovering interesting things. These children often make the best ecologists, geologists or climate scientists – think of those scientists who spend months at a time in remote outdoor locations.

FICTION : I like to keep an open mind and science seems to be closed to lots of alternative ways of thinking.

FACT : This is one of the biggest misunderstandings about science. Science at its core is open-minded and could not have progressed without exploring the many alternative ways of looking at things.

FICTION : Scientists all seem to agree with each other, like they're in some special club. I don't think I like the idea of that.

FACT : Disagreeing and trying to disprove each other's ideas is the basis of scientific research. Scientists do experiments to come up with answers to questions; then other scientists do more experiments to try to disprove those answers. Only when the original answer can't be disproved time and time again will the scientific community accept the answer as a theory.

FICTION : I don't want to be a scientist so why bother doing science subjects at school?

FACT : You don't have to be a scientist to beneft from learning science. Many people who study science at school or even university don't go on to become working scientists. Science is about asking questions, experimenting, analysing data and solving problems in creative and innovative ways. These skills are vital in many careers, especially in the future workspace.

Questacon (National Science and Technology Centre)

Introduce students to this site for activities, workshops, videos, newsletters and news of upcoming events. (Cool stuff to make, see and do)

www.questacon.edu.au

Physics.org

Free activities, games and suggested sites

www.physics.org/marvinandmilo.asp?id=95

Technology

  • Translates from the Greek language as the 'science of craft'
  • Is a collection of skills, methods and techniques used to make goods and services
  • Is used in scientific investigation
  • Began when our ancestors converted natural resources into simple tools

 

 

Technical skills are the skills and knowledge needed to accomplish specific technical tasks in different fields. People with technical skills are referred to as technicians. In an age of increasing growth in technology, the demand for certain types of technicians will also increase. Young adults who develop their talents, especially in high tech fields like Information and Communications Technology (ICT), hold the key to a steady, creative and exciting work future.

Reasons to develop technical skills

  • Employment
  • Higher pay
  • Save time and money
  • Prevent problems and reduce frustrations
  • Make intelligent technology purchases
  • Empower yourself
  • Access information efficiently
  • Earn money online
  • Gain confidence with technology

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

ICT is a key entry to employment. It includes any communication device or application and covers radio, television, mobile phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so much more.

Ways to improve ICT skills

  • Read technical books
  • Take classes and online tutorials
  • Hang out with geeks
  • Subscribe to technical magazines
  • Create your own website
  • Build your own PC
  • Embrace a variety of software
  • Join a club
  • Learn to program

Some people mistakenly believe that being 'in IT' is only for smart people, or computer nerds who spend hour upon hour staring at a screen. But as we move further into the IT-dominated future, these stereotypes have proven to be limited.

What is IT?

At its most basic level, IT is about using computers to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data (information). It doesn't take a genius to figure out that as the IT field is growing, so too are IT-related jobs. Employers now and into the future will demand that employees have at least mid-level IT skills. That said, computer programming should be the 'new layer of literacy' for all school children at all levels.

COMPUTERS, COMPUTER PROGRAMS, COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS

We are all familiar with what a computer is, but it's worth breaking it down for students anyway. A computer is a programmable machine that responds to a specifc set of instructions (program) to produce a result. Most of us think of a computer as a PC (personal computer) but computers go far beyond this. There are:

  • Workstations - - Powerful single-user computers
  • Minicomputers - - Multi-user computers able to support from ten to hundreds of users simultaneously
  • Mainframes - - Even more powerful multi-user computers that can support hundreds to thousands of users at once
  • Supercomputers - - Extremely fast and powerful computers that can perform hundreds of millions of instructions per second

Computer programs - - A computer requires a program in order to work. These are written by computer programmers using a programming language.

Computer programmers - - The term 'programmer' is quite broad and can be used to describe a software developer, web developer, coder, software engineer or software analyst. Computer programmers use a wide range of programming languages and some programmers become specialists in a specifc language.

Why everybody should learn to program!

  • Programming controls everything around us
  • To close the divide between technology and the average person
  • To move beyond being an IT user to becoming a part of the IT revolution
  • Programming reaps huge rewards
  • Programming helps develop logic, reasoning and lateral thinking (skills for all careers)
  • Programming 'geeks' (the new cool kids) will take over the world!

Why are there so few programmers?

  • Programming has not been widely taught in schools
  • People have been hesitant to learn
  • Programming has traditionally been the domain of 'geeks'

Programming and coding in schools

In 2013 the UK government announced a plan to teach every child to code from school entry at age 5 to the end of their formal schooling at age 16. In this sense, the UK is leading the world in preparing the future workforce for the computer dominated world. Australian schools need to follow suit if we are to keep up with the revolution.

A great resource for educators to teach computer science to kids of all ages is - Code.org

Another great concept for Australian schools is the Hour of Code, a global movement reaching 10s of millions of students in over 180 countries. This is a one-hour introduction to computer science that is designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn the basics. Anybody anywhere can organise an Hour of Code event. It's suitable for ages 4 to 104 and no experience is necessary! - www.hourofcode.com

If you look at a few websites, chances are that at least one of them has been built or partially built by a self-taught developer. There are plenty of them out there, and it's not hard to find an inspiring story of a self-taught beginner doggedly reaching the heights of top end web developer with a six-figure salary. Web development requires commitment and a thirst for knowledge - not something that students need to go to university to acquire!

TIPS TO BECOMING A SELF-TAUGHT WEB DEVELOPER

Here are just a few tips to help students to focus on the development of their skills. These skills will be much sought after in the workplace and a bonus in life:

Draft a learning plan or rough curriculum - - List the learning materials you will need and have it reviewed by a senior developer. Be flexible - no learning path is the same and there is no accredited list of web development learning resources.

Avoid gimmicks - - When you're putting together your learning plan, 'magic pill' resources offering a fast track, easy learn path to becoming a pro might be tempting. Steer clear of these. Programming and web development is not easy and there are no short cuts.

Create a learning schedule - - Structure your studies and follow a routine to stay focussed and motivated. Practise every day if you can. Learning to progam or code is like learning another language - practice makes perfect.

Build stuff - - Put your new knowledge and skills into action. Dive in and start building, even if you don't feel ready. Attempting to build something will show you what you know - and what you don't.

Join a community - - Learning with others and from others is often the best way to learn. Online discussion groups are everywhere and can be easily accessed from your own computer - and you can log out whenever you need time to yourself.

Even if you don't understand a lot of this stuff, there are sure to be students in the class who will be able to fill you in on the detail and share their knowledge. It might be a great opportunity for class discussion of the function and future of these technologies and the opportunities they present.

Coding - - Even if you're not a programmer or developer, it is becoming increasingly necessary for employees to have some basic coding and programming skills.

DevOps Skills - - Development operations covers a variety of IT-related job functions. DevOps skills include system administration, scripting and basic programming knowledge.

Mobile development - - Many companies will invest in employees who are skilled enough to keep up with the ever-shifting mobile technology market.

Cybersecurity - - There is a span demand for certifed information systems security professionals, especially experts in security for mobile app development.

Big data analytics - - Today's tech job seekers need to understand and assess how businesses, governments and universities can use big data analytics to shape their competitive strategy.

User experience design - - This includes working with HTML/ CSS, JavaScript and Adobe Creative Suite, and using these to understand how users interact with technology and how to implement these interfaces.

Social media expertise - - Today's job seekers need to be able to list the specifc social media platforms they use and show their working knowledge of any systems used to manage these platforms such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite.

Agile methodology - - Using Agile for project management is an alternative to traditional software development methods. Tasks are broken down into smaller and easier to manage projects.

Experience with emerging technologies - - Employers want people whose skills go beyond using technologies that most other applicants know.

Structured query language (SQL) - - This is a highly sought after skill due to its ability to work with nearly all databases.

Technical writing - -The ability to write about new technologies for everyday users to access is an entirely different skill than being able to use those new technologies.

  • UI/UX designers/developers
  • Full-stack web and production developers
  • Network engineers
  • Security/cybersecurity professionals
  • Mobile engineers
  • Business analysts
  • IT project managers
  • Cloud architects/integration
  • Data scientists
  • Content management systems (CMS)

The modern tech-savvy user may know how to use smart devices and all the apps they have downloaded, but they probably don't understand the technology behind them. The world needs more people who can not only use technology but also understand how it works. These people are the innovators who ask questions like, 'Why don't we do it this way?' or 'Would it be better if we did it like this instead?'

IT geeks are:

  • Innovators
  • Economic cultivators
  • Boundary breakers
  • Collaborators
  • Exciting and fun!

Improve your skills? Hang out with tech-savvy!

The more you spend time with tech-savvy people, the more their knowledge and skills rub off on you. Geeks learn from other geeks. They get excited about befriending someone who is interested in learning about the stuff they love because they love to share their knowledge. Tech-savvy people are rapidly taking over the world - look at how many geek billionaires there are out there:


Code School - Create a free account for hands-on programming courses. - www.codeschool.com/

Treehouse - Offers a free start up trial on learning to code - www.teamtreehouse.com/learn-to-code

Code Academy - Free lessons on writing simple commands - www.codecademy.com/

Code Monster - Free. Simple programming - www.crunchzilla.com/code-monster

Try Ruby (Tutorial) - Try a programming language from Japan. - www.tryruby.org/levels/1/challenges/0

Ruby - www.ruby-lang.org/en/

Khan Academy - Free online start-up tools teaching the fundamentals of coding, animation, games and drawing through programming. - www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming

Scratch Academy - Create stories, games and animations to - www.scratch.mit.edu/

  • Involves the application of mathematics and scientific knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build and improve structures, machines, tools, systems and processes
  • Four main branches - chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical
  • The newer branch is software or computer systems engineering

Students are sure to get excited about engineering when they look around at the design and structure of everything around them.

Engineering is behind the creation of the ancient pyramids, the largest storage dams, the most iconic bridges, our transportation, the roads on which we travel and the bridges we cross, the lift that carries us from basement to roof, eyeglasses, and the tiny clasp on our clutch bag (or wallet as the case may be).

Engineering involves manufacture and maintenance, public works and private enterprise, systems, safety and cyber-science. The possibilities of a future in engineering are endless for young adults entering the workforce.

  • Be creative!
  • Make the world a better place - clean water, environmental protection, end world hunger
  • Endless possibilities
  • Collaborate with professionals from all areas
  • Travel Australia and the world
  • Earn good money

 

The future looks bright for engineers of all types. The technology revolution has created a growing global demand for - software - engineers. You could say they are the idols of the day! With growth in the fields of alternative energies, the demand for - electrical - and - power - engineers is on the increase, as is the demand for - petroleum - engineers with the need for ongoing search and for sustainable development of natural resources.

A FEW AREAS OF ENGINEERING

Engineering principles can be applied in many areas to help improve our lives. With so many branches of engineering, there is sure to be something that suits most interests and talents. The following are just a few.

Aeronautical engineer - Designs and develops new technologies in the manufacture of aircraft and spacecraft

Biomedical engineer - Involved in the design concept and development of diagnostic or therapeutic healthcare equipment

Civil engineer - Plans and supervises the design and construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, dams, etc

Electrical engineer - Researches, plans, designs and participates in the testing and manufacture of electrical equipment

Environmental engineer - Improves, maintains and protects human health, ecosystems and the natural environment

Industrial engineer - Deals with research into optimising the efficiency of time and energy in the manufacture of goods

Marine engineer - Develops ocean technologies for fixed and floating structures, propulsion and power generation

Mechanical engineer - Involved in the design, development and manufacture of machinery and mechanical systems

Nuclear engineer - Researches, designs and monitors nuclear reactors and power plant equipment

Petroleum engineer - Researches locations and plans safe access and production methods of oil and natural gas

Software engineer - Designs and develops software systems for all industries

If students would like further information on engineering, encourage them to see the careers counsellor, attend careers expos to talk to engineers in person, or visit the Engineers Australia website: - www.engineersaustralia.org.au

Club Engineer - Free online lessons, newsletters, resources and information on holiday programs - www.clubengineer.org/about-us

Engineering Games - Free engineering, logic, robot and electricity games and activities on holiday programs - www.engineering-games.net/

Robo Camps - Robotics camps to engage young people in STEM on holiday programs - http://firstaustralia.org/programs/robocamps/

Tech Camp - Tech camps and programs on holiday programs - www.techcamp.com.au/

  • Pure - - an abstract science of number, quantity and space
  • Applied - - to invent, innovate, design, build, improve
  • Underpins the other three parts of - STEM
  • Underpins everything we do

Mathematics expresses itself everywhere we look -€“ on earth and in the stars and in the music we listen to. It pervades everything we touch and do. The language, science and tools of numbers allow us to function in our everyday lives. An understanding of it is essential in making sense of the world around us.

EAR OF MATHS

Many students will let you know that maths is not their favourite area of study. It's true that beyond the middle of high school, maths starts getting tricky for those who aren't naturally attuned.

But basic to intermediate maths skills are important in almost every job, and in so many areas of our lives. Although most of us won't be mathematicians or physicists, all of us will use some degree of maths in our future careers, and yes - in our daily lives.

(Busting some of our most common misconceptions about maths)

FICTION : - I don't have a maths brain.

FACT : - There is no such thing as a 'maths brain'. Studies show that there are different brain types, but that these are to do with the way people approach problem solving not whether they have a 'maths brain' or not.

FICTION : - Maths is boring!

FACT : - Many students who study arts or literature accuse maths of being boring, but remember there are many mysteries and long-unsolved problems in the field of mathematics. If you like mystery and drama, you will find it in the complexity of maths. Give it a chance!

FICTION : - Maths is too hard.

FACT : - It's true that advanced mathematics provides humans with some of their biggest intellectual challenges. But most people don't end up doing this type of maths. It is about building blocks -€“ you just need to understand the basics to get to the harder stuff.

  • Break it down into smaller, more manageable parts
  • Start at the beginning and spend time mastering this before you move on
  • If things get hard, go back to the basics once again
  • Don't give up!

WHY STUDY MATHS?

  • Mathematicians and statisticians are highly sought after
  • Global employment opportunities
  • Dynamic jobs
  • Earn good money
  • Refine your analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Enhance your creative thinking skills
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Meet interesting and inspiring people
  • It's fun!

Brainstorm with students the way they use maths in everyday life. Our knowledge of numbers allows us to use technologies in the most simple of tasks, such as programming or using our mobiles. It may surprise the class just how numerate they are to be 'doing' maths without even realising. Here are some suggestions in case you get stuck.

In the kitchen

  • Measuring ingredients
  • Adapting recipes
  • Calculating cooking times

In the garden

  • Measuring
  • Compost mix ratio
  • Weeks and seasons

Arts

  • Sculpting and painting
  • Dance
  • Measuring proportions

Banking

  • Budgeting
  • Interest
  • Tax

Hobbies

  • Sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet
  • Patterns

Shopping

  • Sales
  • Budgeting
  • Percentages

Travel

  • Timetables, schedules
  • Planning
  • Distance

School

  • Graphs
  • Statistics
  • Bus schedules

Music

  • Rhythm and tempo
  • Note values
  • Musical pitch

Games

  • Puzzles
  • Brainteasers
  • Problem-solving
  • Online gaming

Sport and fitness

  • Scores
  • Dietary requirements and calculations
  • Weights

Fashion

  • Sizing of clothes
  • Proportion
  • Pricing

Basic and intermediate maths skills are required for most jobs and careers. Although young adults don't necessarily need to study to acquire these skills, many with a passion for maths will go on to complete a Mathematics or Statistics degree at university level.

HIGH DEMAND AREAS FOR MATHS GRADUATES (TO NAME JUST A FEW)

  • Banking and finance
  • Information technology
  • Education and research
  • Insurance and investment
  • Oceanography
  • Meteorology
  • Image processing
  • Environmental modelling
  • Health and medical diagnosis
  • Defence
  • Government

If students are interested in studying mathematics and need further information on the types of courses and careers available, clubs to join and events to attend, this information is available from the - Australian Mathematical Society:

MATHS -€“ WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

Whether or not students take up the option of participating in further maths study or if they just choose to hone their maths skills -€“ everyone has to agree, having a handle on numbers will make their lives a whole lot easier in almost everything they do.

Overview

Peer into class photographs of any co-educational school or college and half of the faces peering back are those of girls, many with a talent for maths or a passion for science, many with dreams to take that passion into their future career.

Unfortunately the dreams of too many girls don’t translate into a career in STEM. This is a wasted opportunity for half of our students.

STEM underpins our world. The discoveries and the products of STEM influence our lives and orchestrate our wellbeing, our present and our future. It is odd then, that with women making up just over 50% of the population, so few are involved in STEM fields.

Historical reasons

Students today might be intrigued to know that as little as two decades ago, girls were actively discouraged from taking STEM subjects in schools. Where boys could take on tech studies, girls were delegated to such things as sewing and cookery -€“ the ‘home crafts’. As a result of this, men have historically dominated STEM fields, and many of the women who did participate in these fields were forced to leave work once they married and had children.

Some worrying statistics:

  • Only a quarter of STEM jobs are occupied by women
  • 1 in 4 IT graduates are women
  • Less than 1 in 10 engineering graduates are women
  • Women occupy less than 1 in 5 senior researcher positions in Australian universities and research institutes

* As a matter of interest, do a quick ‘show of hands’ survey of the classroom to find out the subject preferences of your students. You will probably find that males dominate the maths and science fields. An informative class discussion may centre on the reasons your students made the subject choices they did.

The limited involvement of women in STEM has meant that:

  • Girls tend to narrow their choices before knowing what they can achieve
  • Many girls lack the confidence rather than ability
  • There is still active discrimination and gender bias in some workplaces
  • The care of children or elderly relatives creates gaps and setbacks in women’s careers
  • There are fewer women in STEM management and fewer opportunities to move

Why is this a concern?

  • The skills and talents of women are being under-utilised
  • Lack of women in STEM = the lack of perspective of half of the population
  • STEM products are being developed with little input from women
  • Limited STEM involvement = limited STEM progress = diminished STEM quality
  • Women’s voices are often unheard and their needs are not always adequately met
  • Women need access to stable, well-paid positions

OVERSIGHTS

Oversights in STEM research, development and accepted knowledge have had a dramatic effect on the lives of women. The participation of more women in STEM will help to avoid this in the future.

Clinical drug trials - These were often predicated on the physiology of the average size male, however the active ingredients in some drugs are metabolised differently by women. As a result, inadvertent overdoses have caused unnecessary harm to women.

Cardiovascular disease - Study was once centred on the symptoms and experiences of men, - however - cardiovascular symptoms in women are dramatically different. This meant that for many years women’s cardiovascular symptoms were regularly missed and women were dying unnecessarily of heart disease.

Airbag technology - Was great in protecting men from the impact of accidents, - however - not the lighter and more fragile bodies of women and children. It was female engineers who made a difference to the product safety of vehicle airbags, saving lives along the way.

Computer science - Has a low percentage of female participants, yet women embrace and use new technologies with enthusiasm. Over half of Internet users are women, yet social media is being built primarily reflecting the tastes and interests of men. Come on girls - change the dynamics!

Women in STEM Australia

Connecting girls and women in STEM -€“ stories, ideas, networking opportunities, events, activities, mentorship and profiles.

www.womeninscienceaust.org

We understand that women and men are different in fundamental ways -€“ in the way we view the world, solve problems, and imagine the future. Women in STEM fields tend more inclined to be socially aware and focus on improving the lives of others. When women design new products or services or when they undertake scientific research, they bring a unique perspective that may not have been considered. Women in STEM make a difference because they can:

  • Research issues that impact and improve the lives of women, children and the elderly
  • Tailor better health care for all genders
  • Design products that suit the needs of women and the disabled (ever heard the saying ‘It was obviously designed by a man’?)
  • Engineer stuff to free the world from domestic drudgeries
  • Program robotics with emotional intelligence
  • Develop computer games with a more female perspective
  • Search for ways to end world hunger, disease and poverty

*Interesting fact: Lab rats and mice respond differently to male and female researchers, perhaps skewing the outcomes of some studies.

ADVANTAGES OF WOMEN IN STEM

Women’s involvement in STEM expands the general knowledge in those fields. The experiences, expertise and differences in thinking between men and women serve to complement one another and provide a diversity that expands our knowledge and propels us into a more exciting future. Greater numbers of women in STEM benefits everybody. Women’s involvement in STEM means:

  • The elimination of gender bias
  • Increased creativity and innovation
  • Collaboration and solution
  • Diversity in product
  • Balanced priorities in research
  • Expanded general knowledge
  • Diverse workplaces
  • Expanded growth in the field

* Interesting fact: Companies that employ women in large numbers tend to outperform their competitors in profitability! If all of that isn’t enough to get the girls in the classroom to take up some form of STEM, have them consider these incentives:

  • STEM jobs and careers will grow into the future
  • STEM provides access to higher paying jobs
  • STEM jobs are generally more stable
  • The wage gap between men and women in STEM felds is smaller

In recent years there has been a push to encourage more women into STEM fields. It is time for female students to explode the myth that women and STEM are not a good fit. They have many great role models both past and present and all they have to do is read the news or search the internet for inspiration. Encourage your students to do this.

What should we do?

It will take a concerted effort by educators, employers, policy makers and individuals alike to make the STEM environment a more fertile place for women to thrive.

  • Nurture and encourage ALL students towards STEM
  • Reinforce the fact that talent is not dictated by gender
  • Language makes a difference -€“ don’t always use the generic ‘he’ when referring to scientists, astronauts, etc.
  • Provide clear pathways for education and employment
  • Change the workplace culture that discriminates against women

Come on girls, reduce the imbalance -€“ get involved in STEM

  • For a greater say in your future
  • The chance to use your talents
  • The opportunity to shape the world the way you want it to be

Many students may feel they’ve left it too late to consider a future in STEM. Some may have given up on Maths or Science years ago and don’t believe they will ever catch up. This just isn’t true. Get them to consider the following:

  • Learning is a lifelong activity
  • Many students in STEM courses at university are mature-aged with valuable life experience
  • The future worker will have many jobs and several careers - they will be expected to re-train and change direction throughout their working life.
If your students are studying under the Australian Curriculum, this activity will get them thinking about how the General Capabilities relate to the skills they have developed throughout each module, how they are relevant to their own personal and learning goals, and how they can carry them into the workforce.

STEM Assessment Task