Think of the last article you scrolled through and read on a subject related to science, maths, engineering or medicine. Were you aware of just who the quoted experts were in the article?
More than likely, the individual given a voice to express their opinion was a man, given less than one in four STEM experts quoted in the media are women.
Australian Academy of Science wants to change this. So they’ve created an online database where the public and media can find female experts across all STEM industries.
#STEMWomenAus—an online directory of women in Australia working in STEM has just been launched.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can get involved.#AusWomenInSTEM #WomenInSTEM @lisaharveysmith @karenandrewsmp pic.twitter.com/SHGRKfuyHs
— Australian Academy of Science (@Science_Academy) August 1, 2019
Launched earlier this month, the online directory can be used to find women for a range of purposes beyond just media activities alone, including: mentoring, providing an expert opinion, sitting on boards or committees, outreach activities, conference presenting and opportunities to collaborate.
With funding from the Australian Government, The Australian Academy of Science collaborated with CSIRO, Science & Technology Australia, and the Australian Science Media Centre to get this database together.
It enables users to search for women in STEM based on their expertise, location and other search fields. You can also create a shortlist and message experts directly. Most crucially, you can sign up and add yourself as an expert.
Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, wants all women in STEM to register their name on the list. “Hop online and sign up to STEM Women. You would be a visible STEM role model and a positive force for inspiring more women and girls into STEM.”
Within seven days of its launch this month, more than 1,000 women had registered across Australia. Clearly, there is no shortage of female experts in STEM.
Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Women in STEM Ambassador and high profile astronomer, took to Twitter to encourage women to sign up. “Your information will be available to thousands of organisations keen to provide connections and visibility for women in STEM. This database is a platform to promote your talents.”
Kelly Wong, science educator at the The Royal Institution of Australia, told me, “There are more programs than ever before encouraging girls to be interested in STEM. The next generation need to see and hear women’s voices for aspiration and also just to see they can do anything in life.”
I asked her about the barriers women continue to face in STEM today.
“Women still struggle to reach senior research positions, they struggle to get grant funding from systems that don’t fully recognise and acknowledge career gaps from having family, they still don’t get taken seriously at conferences. Sharing knowledge is key for STEM and this applies in more ways than one.”
Women’s Agenda encourages all women in STEM to go on and create their own profile. You can access the database for free here.
Pictured above: Ambassador and astronomer Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.