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Setting young women up for a career in STEM


A young girl wearing a grey t-shirt and black hat, looking at the camera. She is standing in front of a paddock with cows.
Charlie Smith, a young Jegara woman, took part in the Academy’s Townsville camp.
24 Jan 2020

Every day, new jobs are emerging because of technology. Continual advances are changing the essential skillset of the workforce, and in the future, three in every four jobs will require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that students develop a strong foundation in STEM, to set them up for success in this changing world.

The Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy aims to provide young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the tools and support they need to succeed in an exciting STEM career. It offers holistic support for high achieving female secondary students, through access to ongoing training, camps and mentoring programs.

Over the past two weeks, the first cohort of students attended week-long camps in Cairns and Townsville. The camps featured a range of STEM activities, which also integrated Indigenous knowledges and cultural heritage.

In Cairns, 26 young women visited the Great Barrier Reef and the Djunbunji Rangers at Bessie Point, and took part in a number of learning activities with mentors from CSIRO. 

In Townsville, the group visited Mungalla Station, near Ingham, and the Origin Gas Fired Power Station site. The girls also had the opportunity to hear from a number of STEM professionals, who answered questions and provided advice about pursuing a career in STEM.

Mercya Day, a young woman from Mer Island, said the camp was a great opportunity to try something new.

‘I’ve learnt a lot this week, and I’m really happy they made this STEM Academy for young women.’

Charlie Smith, a young Jagera woman, said the visit to the Australian Institute of Marine Science was a highlight.

‘I really liked looking at the work they’re doing on conservation of the coral reef, as I’m interested in going into marine biology,’ Charlie said.

‘I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to get involved with STEM and the Academy. There are so many great opportunities, and you meet really interesting people along the way.’

The camps were the first in a series that will take place in regions around the country, setting up participants to be part of a generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female leaders, role models and game changers in STEM.

‘Indigenous girls really can do anything, no matter what the barriers are,’ Charlie said. 

Find out more

The Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy is delivered by CSIRO in partnership with CareerTrackers.

The Academy is funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

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