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Young women encouraged to follow their dreams in engineering

More than 100 Year 9 and 10 female students recently learned about some of the exciting career opportunities available to them in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects at an event held at The University of Western Australia.

Girls in Engineering Discovery Day is part of the Girls in Engineering program at UWA, which is supported by foundational partner, Rio Tinto. The event aimed to inspire young women interested in a STEM career by breaking gender stereotypes and encouraging them to pursue a career that they are most passionate about.

A report issued by the Office of the Chief Scientist in 2016 estimated that only around 16 per cent of Australia’s qualified STEM workers were female.

The students got involved in activities ranging from working in robotics and programming miniature robots, to developing prosthetic limbs, using virtual reality systems to create experiences that help those with physical and mental impairments and completing activities to understand how algorithms, patterns, and maths can be used to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems.

A keynote speech by world leader in cancer research Professor Christobel Saunders from UWA Medical School’s surgery division, who was also a recent recipient of a Premier’s Science Award, was a highlight of the day with Professor Saunders imparting her knowledge and advice to the students.

Professor Saunders said engineering was a wonderful career for women with incredibly broad options and the opportunity to make a big difference.

“It’s not just about building roads or machines that go ‘bang’, engineering is a hugely diverse career that encompasses a lot of other things within science,” Professor Saunders said.

“I think inspiring young women is really important and it’s also important to help them realise that there is a spark there and you really can make a difference in the world through what you choose to study.”

“This is an incredibly bright bunch of motivated girls and I’d love to see them enjoy a rewarding career in STEM.”

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls student Amy Boyd, 14, of Bicton said the event was a rewarding experience and opened up many possibilities of what she might like to study after school.

“I really enjoyed the work we did using virtual reality, the possible uses of this technology to improve areas such as medicine and how it can be used to carry out different surgeries without needing to hurt anyone or be invasive,” Miss Boyd said.

“I’m interested in pursuing a career in chemical and biomedical engineering which looks pretty fun and it was great to see some of the options in practice at the Girls in Engineering Discovery Day.”

Participating schools at the Girls in Engineering Discovery Day included St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, Methodist Ladies’ College, St Mary’s Anglican Girls College, Belmont City College and Governor Stirling Senior High School.


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