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Graham Reilly
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A new report looking at why many girls do not pursue study and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) recommends a range of initiatives to encourage participation in these subjects at school to better equip them to pursue careers in some of the fastest growing occupations in Australia.

The report Girls’ Future – Our Future was funded by the Invergowrie Foundation and conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.

One of the report’s authors, University of Melbourne Professor Jan van Driel, says parents, carers, teachers and career advisors should learn to avoid the stereotyping of girls’ interests and abilities in STEM.

“They should work together to encourage girls’ participation in STEM subjects,” Professor van Driel says.

Another of the report’s authors, Deakin University Associate Professor Linda Hobbs, stresses the importance of providing opportunities for girls to engage with STEM professionals through project work, mentoring or industry placement.

“If they are able to interact with and relate to people already in the field, they are able to see their own career possibilities,” Associate Professor Hobbs says.

The report also recommends:

  • Focusing on early years and primary education to address unconscious biases and teachers’ ability to teach STEM for all students;
  • Quality career advice on the diversity of STEM-based career possibilities.

Invergowrie Foundation Chair Wendy Lewis says the report will contribute significantly to advancing girls’ education in Victoria.

“If girls and women are not encouraged to engage with STEM they will be at greater risk of becoming excluded from a substantial part of the workforce of the future,” Ms Lewis says.

 The full report can be viewed here.