4 women in science share their tips on International Day of Girls in Science

Four women in science share career tips on International Day of Women and Girls in Science

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Make lots of mistakes, check your attitude and quit trying to be perfect were just some of the career tips shared this morning at an event co hosted by RMIT and Science and Technology Australia’s SuperStars of STEM, to mark the 4th Annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The event was held in Melbourne aiming to encourage high school students who identify as female to pursue careers in STEM. 

The event speakers included MC Jacqueline Tate, along with Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Gillian Sparkes, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at RMIT University Dr Asha Rao, Senior Lecturer of Environmental Engineering at Deakin University Dr Ellen Moon and Dr Amanda Caple, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, who works across the Victorian Government to foster linkages and identify opportunities for economic outcomes through business, research and government connections.

Each speaker had the chance to share their top three tips for making it in the STEM world, as well as providing students with a valuable insight into their world of STEM.

Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability

“ATTITUDE IS KEY”

“There is no great plan”, Dr Sparkes said. “When it comes to STEM careers, there’s not one linear path.  For me, it’s very opportunistic. My educational training was expansive. I did a PHD and then went into research. I was also just expanding my views and thoughts.”

“My attitude is very important. I am always pushing in barriers and believing in myself. Not letting stereotypes interfere with my dreams is crucial. There’s handwork, always. But an attitude to persist will get you to where you want to go. Experience, attitude and hard-work will get you where you want to do.”

Professor Asha Rao, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at RMIT University

“MAKE LOTS OF MISTAKES!” 

“I’ve spent more than 20 years at RMIT. I have confidence in my abilities in Maths,” Professor Rao said. 

“I am here because I learned that mistakes are critical to my success as a person in STEM. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. When I made a mistake, it forces you to question why that mistake occurred. Maths was easy for me.It’s okay to be wrong. Be confident in your abilities. Did you know that men earn 35% more on average than women in STEM? We need these figures to change.”

Dr Ellen Moon (Senior Lecturer of Environmental Engineering at Deakin University)

“DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT.” 

“Perfection is not healthy,” Dr Moon said. “You can’t have success without failure. We need to normalise failure and to normalise making mistakes. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.”

“You’ve got to push yourself, and talk back to the negative self talk. I’ve had my own narrative of bad self talk too, saying things like, “Oh I’m not good enough, I’m going to totally stuff this or that up.”

“Self talk is an evolutionary thing. It used to save us from being eaten by lions. But in today’s world, there’s no use for it. Remember, confidence is not something that will magically appear one day. A career as a woman in STEM is not a destination. It’s a journey. So all you can do is put one foot in front of the other.”

Dr Amanda Caples (Victoria’s Lead Scientist)

“CLIMB BACK UP THE TREE.”

“STEM is important for our world’s future, and for girls, now more than ever, there are many mentorships and experiences offered from organisations like the Superstars of STEM.”  

“We need to change the workforce of the future. We’re here with the Superstars of STEM, and from our perspective, we’re showcasing these amazing women scientists’ work to demonstrate to all of you what you can achieve. We believe we can get the diversity among the workforce for a better future.” 

“Mark Twain said the sweetest fruit is at the end of the branch. So, if you want to get the sweetest fruit you need to get out on that branch, sometimes the branch will break. You need to get back up, dust yourself up and climb back up the tree. Keep reaching out. Remember, a career in STEM can take you anywhere around the world.” 

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