You can’t be what you can’t see – role modelling paths to a STEM career

Lucie Hammond, Founder of local edutech Being VR, recently joined Women in Technology, WA (WiTWA) to speak with hundreds of high-school students in Perth’s Northern Suburbs with the aim of inspiring them to pursue innovative and rewarding careers in STEM.

The initiative is part of a broader Techtrails program for schools and is funded by a Government grant awarded to WiTWA in support of their work to remove the barriers that stop women taking part in STEM education and careers, including entrepreneurship.

The program is relevant to both female and male students, and emphasises the importance of positive female role modelling of women in STEM careers to all genders. The program is targeted at girls and boys in years 9 and 10 and is proud to have reached over 1,500 students since inception.

Opened by Michelle Sandford of Microsoft, the day was full and varied for students and speakers alike. Other speakers throughout the day included Darren Lomman from Bloom, Brian Nimbalker from Kinetic IT, Andrew Fleet from Fleet Engineering, and Vedusha Chooramum and Maddy Badarinath, Developers from Bankwest.

Lucie spoke on her less traditional journey to STEM. Her message to students came from both personal and professional experience, and a combination of her time spent within corporates, as a parent, and as a consultant running Women in Leadership programs before embarking on an exploratory journey to find new and more engaging ways to train workforces for the future of work.

“Immerse yourselves early and often in as many opportunities as possible, and blatantly disregard any pressure from stereotypes and other people’s expectations – the journey is yours! Almost every role in the future of work will involve tech in some shape or form and there are many roads to your ultimate career destination – the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and play to your strengths,” she said.

The STEM position in Australia is dire. The OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2013 ranks Australia last among 33 countries for large firms collaborating on innovation with higher education or public research institutions, and a 2016 study released by the Australian Office of Chief Scientist found that women are substantially disadvantaged in terms of earning capacity and education in STEM fields.

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