After celebrating its anniversary in August 2020, STEM Women has published its successes and future development in its first-year impact report.
The online directory STEM Women was established as a simple tool to combat the lack of representation of women in science, technology engineering and mathematics. By creating a STEM Women profile, women can gain more opportunities to share their expertise and progress their careers and personal capabilities.
STEM Women set a target to publish more than 1000 profiles in its first year. This target was well and truly exceeded. Over 2600 women have created a STEM Women profile, and more than 41,000 people have visited the site.
Earlier this year, STEM Women carried out an evaluation to determine the directory’s demographic and how the website is accessed by women in STEM, including current and potential members. Three-quarters of STEM Women members work and study in the higher education and research (HER) sector, with substantial variety in STEM subject matter expertise. Over 10 per cent of profiles identify with several diversity attributes including culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTQI+, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, having a disability and neurodiverse.
STEM Women members indicated that visibility, support, opportunities, and community were some of the main reasons they decided to join STEM Women. Additionally, 30% of survey respondents regularly used the search function on STEM Women, indicating that members are taking the initiative to learn more about and engage with their community.
STEM Women allows seekers to search for experts via six filters: expertise, state, city, opportunity type, diversity attribute, and whether they have a working with children check. Out of the total 9570 searches made over the first year, seekers searched by expertise in 76 per cent of searches, which cements STEM Women as a discovery database.
Seekers searched with 1574 different expertise terms, the most common being chemistry, cancer, astronomy and nutrition.
The survey asked members to identify what opportunities they would like to be offered, such as speaking and outreach opportunities, media engagements, committee and board invitations or award nominations.
Committee and board invitations were the most highly regarded opportunity by respondents, which provides a key focus area for future promotion and partnering strategies.
“With the current gender disparity in the fields of engineering and IT, the STEM Women database has provided a brilliant and much needed central resource to bring forward the profiles of women in STEM from all across Australia … Through my profile I got the opportunity to have an amazing experience to mentor a team of students.” Dr Mureena Bano, Senior Lecturer, School of Information Technology, Deakin University
Moving forward, STEM Women will set the target to reach 5000 profiles by August 2021. It aims to grow member representation across all sectors of the STEM workforce, particularly industry and government sectors, as well as those with VET qualifications. It is also aiming to increase the representation of senior women in STEM to inspire the next generation of senior executive women. Achieving more equal representation of profiles across the states and territories is also a priority.
Additional functionalities for profiles are being explored, such as calls for blog submissions and showcasing examples of STEM Women members connecting and collaborating.
STEM Women was created and supported by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with CSIRO, Science & Technology Australia and the Australian Science Media Centre, along with financial support from the Australian Government. STEM Women aligns with the visibility opportunity outlined in the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, and the vison of the Australian Government’s Advancing Women in STEM strategy.
© 2022 Australian Academy of Science