$39.8m in govt funding to support women in STEM

Friday, 20 August, 2021

$39.8m in govt funding to support women in STEM

As part of National Science Week, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women is providing $39.8 million over three years to 60 organisations as part of the Women’s Leadership and Development Program, enabling these organisations to deliver projects to increase women’s representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The projects aim to address employment barriers and challenge gender stereotypes. This will be achieved through upskilling, mentorship and by improving networks and support systems for women across Australia to ensure they can pursue their chosen career pathway.

For example, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund’s (MRCF) Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Program tackles common barriers to career progression and sector retention faced by women employed in the STEM sector by providing women with the qualifications, skills, confidence and networks to attain senior leadership and board positions. The MRCF has received over $1 million from the Office for Women to roll out the program nationally following a successful 2019 pilot in Victoria, with applications set to open on 13 September 2021.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney Women (WSW) is using its funding to launch two programs offering ongoing mentorship for both female students and executives seeking career growth. The Future is Bright Mentoring Program is aimed at high school students in Western Sydney to help them plan for a productive future and STEM career, by matching the young participants with an experienced mentor from academia, government or private sector. The Western Sydney Executive Women in STEM Series is aimed at mid-level career women in STEM fields and encourages connections and the development of self-confidence to prepare them for the executive job growth happening in the region, through roundtables, online mentoring, training and networking.

Some other funding recipients include:

  • Big HART’s Positive Futures project supports young women (aged 13–20) in regional, rural and remote areas to build new pathways to STEM education and careers, through a task-focused workshop program that explores the physical environment of the North West Coast and assists local organisations to document unmapped areas using drone technology.
  • Inventorium’s Returning Women to the Workforce project supports women who have been out of the workforce for at least six months by building skills and confidence to re-enter the workforce through exploring career ambitions and challenging the stereotypes of typically male-dominated fields and sectors, including STEM-based careers.
  • Spacecubed Ventures’ She Codes Plus – Emergence provides women an alternative learning pathway into the tech sector by teaching content from beginner right through to junior developer.
  • Strategy Matrix’s Women’s STEM JumpStart project delivers foundation skills and grassroots capacity building for young regional women to jumpstart their career through boot camps, mentoring and business networking opportunities.
  • The Australian Power Institute’s POWERfulWOMEN project will support women to build engineering careers and leadership roles in the Australian power sector through a 12-month program.
  • The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health’s Enabling STEM Women to Win Grants and Lead Research project addresses the disparity in research funding applications and success rates for women.
  • Whittlesea Community Connections’ Women's Employment and Empowerment Project in Whittlesea supports the creation of employment pathways for women by delivering job-focused courses and trade tasters across horticulture, agriculture, trades, IT and STEM.

“These projects are estimated to benefit around 40,000 Australian women nationwide, including women from diverse backgrounds and those at high risk of long-term unemployment,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne.

“Opportunities will be created for women to upskill and enter traditionally male-dominated industries including non-traditional trades, aviation, construction and coding as well as progress to leadership positions.”

Image caption: The WILD Program was founded by three PhD-qualified women: Dr Nadine Brew (General Manager, Cincera Therapeutics), Dr Lauren Giorgio (Chief Operating Officer, GPN Vaccines) and Dr Udani Reets (Director Partnerships, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre).

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