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Inspiring girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

STEM Girls is a University of South Australia program encouraging girls in year 11 to continue the study of science and mathematics throughout their schooling and into university. Secondary schools are invited to participate and strengthen their STEM initiatives for girls.

The range of opportunities include:

  • enhancing knowledge and understanding of STEM concepts
  • forming networks with like-minded peers
  • meeting and networking with women in STEM careers
  • providing career information, including opportunities for cadetships and scholarships to support a STEM career pathway.

The program is comprised of two Inquiry Days at UniSA campuses and a two-day STEM Girls conference which includes a networking seminar and dinner. In each part of the program, women who are working in STEM professions are invited to speak with the girls and to be integral to the program. STEM undergraduate and doctoral students, along with past STEM Girls, are connected to current STEM Girls during the program days and at the dinner.

Visiting STEM industries raises awareness for the girls and showcases the range of STEM careers and opportunities in South Australia. The industry relationships and the influence of women who have STEM careers provides valuable input for the development and future outcomes of the STEM Girls.  

​97% of STEM Girls participants would recommend the program to other students


Secondary school teachers are STEM Ambassadors, who mentor the STEM Girls in their school, and become partners in a network of teachers across the state. We value the STEM Ambassadors in each secondary school and work collaboratively with them to continue the focus in their schools and communities. 

The program is strengthened by the resources of the University to support knowledge and skill development. STEM Girls participants will be provided with a UniSA email address and access to the UniSA Moodle site to enable networking with other STEM Girls. STEM Ambassadors are also encouraged to network with each other via the Moodle site. The STEM Girls program is managed by UniSA Connect and has five clusters. Clusters meet in the Maths and Science Centre at Mawson Lakes Campus, the Samsung SMARTSchool at Magill Campus, at Whyalla Campus and at Mount Gambier Campus.

 

STEM Girls history

UniSA Connect initiated STEM Girls on behalf of the University in 2015. The program continues to grow, and contact is maintained with girls from the inaugural program.

This initiative commenced in response to state and national agendas to increase the number of females in STEM careers where there continues to be chronic underrepresentation, and to focus on STEM skills. STEM skills are increasingly important to the economic and social wellbeing of Australia with 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations requiring these skills.

From the STEM Girls 2015 cohort of 16, 12 have continued study and are now in tertiary education, with eight in STEM related pathways.

In 2016, we appointed our first STEM Girls Champion, Dr Laura-Anne Bull, Pro Vice Chancellor: Student Engagement and Equity at the University of South Australia. In the same year, STEM Girls initiated its first regional branch with the introduction of the Whyalla cluster. The program grew to two clusters and 40 girls. This was an exciting addition as the regional girls travelled to Adelaide for the networking event and industry tour.

Greater regional engagement occurred and STEM Girls commenced in Mount Gambier in 2017. This addition increased the cohort to three clusters and 60 girls. Staying connected to the STEM Girls after year 11 became a focus, and six of the 2016 STEM Girls were hosted at the International Women’s Day breakfast.

In 2018, our current STEM Girls Champion, Professor Tanya Monro, was appointed and the STEM Girls program continued to expand. An additional metropolitan cluster commenced, and the cohort grew to four clusters and 90 girls. UniSA Connect also hosted six of the 2017 STEM Girls at the International Women’s Day breakfast.  Of the 2018 STEM Girls cohort of 81, 84% applied to a university program, with 72% of those students undertaking a STEM related course.

Our 2019 program continued to expand partnership engagement and the number of girls participating increased to 83. Several of the 2018 STEM Girls attended the International Women’s Day Breakfast and Beyond STEM Girls Research Day.

This year, in 2020, more than 100 girls are expected to participate. Several of the 2019 STEM Girls attended the International Women’s Day Breakfast.

STEM Girls is part of the University’s Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) strategy. SAGE is a University initiative and links to the Australian Government’s request to the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to develop a Women in STEM Decadal Plan. Read more.