With the aim to encourage more females to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Associate Professor Ronika Power shared her STEM experiences with McCarthy Catholic College students on September 17.
Largely under-represented in STEM, women make up just 16% of the qualified Australians working in these fields. As a Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at Macquarie University, A/Prof. Ronika Power is one of them. She is also a Superstars of STEM Inaugural Member.
Created by Science & Technology Australia, Superstars of STEM aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM. They do this by equipping female scientists and technologists with advanced communication skills and providing them with opportunities to use these skills.
A/Prof. Power’s recent opportunity saw her share her story and run activities with 30 Year 10 Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) McCarthy students, as well as a group of Year 8 & 9 female students who are keen to learn more about STEM.
P-TECH Australia is a world leading educational model that enables industry, education and community to collaborate to provide students with industry-supported pathways to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related qualifications and local employment opportunities.
The Western Sydney P-TECH Partnership is based at McCarthy Catholic College, and is one of 14 Partnerships involved in the Australian P-TECH pilot, which is funded by the Australian Government and facilitated by Skilling Australia Foundation.
The P-TECH Australia pilot has a strong focus on attracting more females to engage with STEM. This focus aligns with the mission of Superstars of STEM.
“We are thrilled to be working with P-TECH Australia to raise the profile of females in STEM and open more young people’s eyes to the broad range of exciting opportunities a career in STEM can offer.” says Kylie Walker, CEO, Science & Technology Australia.
A/Prof. Power knows all about these opportunities. Through her work and study in Biocultural Archaeology, she has worked with human skeletal and mummified remains from various geographically and temporally diverse populations: from Holocene hunter-gatherers of Kenya; to megalithic temple builders of Neolithic Malta; and post-14th Century palace burials from the Maldives, just to name a few.
“Working in STEM has provided me with opportunities to literally change history! By applying scientific, technological, statistical and medical studies in my research and teaching with human remains from across the world, I’ve been able to get so close to people from the past, I feel like I’ve actually met them. STEM enables me to discover extraordinary details of their lives: who they were, what they looked like, what they ate and drank, what kinds of activities they participated in, what diseases they suffered in their lives and sometimes, how they died. STEM has the power to reshape our understanding of the past, and inform our decisions in the present and future. This is my dream job! I’m proud to be a Superstar of STEM to show women and girls across Australia that following their curiosity and passion can lead them to a career of inspiration, adventure and fulfilment, too,” A/Prof. Power says.
By supporting STEM professionals to become public role models for young women, Superstars of STEM is working towards gender balance in all STEM fields. With this shared vision, Superstars of STEM will continue to work with P-TECH Australia, by bringing a range of STEM Superstars to visit P-TECH Partnerships across Australia.