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Media Release: The Search Begins for Australia’s Next Constellation of #SuperstarsofSTEM

A nationwide search begins today for the next 60 Superstars of STEM – brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who want to step into the spotlight as media stars.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews will today launch the next round of applications for Science & Technology Australia’s game-changing Superstars of STEM program.

“With women still under-represented in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – it’s so important that we have Superstars of STEM to inspire and encourage more women and girls to look at STEM,” she said.

“So if you are a superstar of STEM already and you’d like to be part of the program Superstars of STEM, please put in a nomination.”

“I encourage you to join a very worthwhile program and be part of inspiring future generations.”

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said Superstars of STEM gave women in STEM the skills and confidence to step into the spotlight and more visible leadership roles.

“It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM leadership roles, and fewer than one in five experts talking about science in the media are women.”

Women only make up 12% of the highest academic seniority level in STEM fields and 13.7% of CEOs in the professional, scientific and technical services industries.

 “The Superstars of STEM program has meant more women STEM experts are now on our airwaves and quoted in our daily news bulletins. They also inspire the next generations of girls into STEM through school visits and public speaking.”

“Today the search begins to find our next constellation of passionate Superstars to become media stars and visible public role models for the next generation.”

Since the program began, the first 90 Superstars of STEM have featured in more than 4,800 news stories across Australia and reached more than 18,000 students in schools.

One of the current Superstars Dr Kudzai Kanhutu has been on the frontlines of the COVID challenge in the Victorian hospital system and became a regular on ABC’s The Drum this year.

Another current Superstar – mask safety expert, engineer and occupational hygienist Dr Kate Cole – secured front page media coverage that prompted major retailers and State safety regulators to strengthen checks on masks and PPE equipment.

Superstar of STEM and aerospace engineer Dr Bianca Capra said the program gave new visibility to women as role models to inspire girls into STEM.

“During my whole undergraduate training as an aerospace engineer, I was never taught by a female engineer and really I didn’t see many people like me in the roles I wanted to be in,” she said.

“This program gave me the chance to change that for the newer generation.”

Superstar of STEM and Antarctic geologist Dr Steph McLennan said: “Through the Superstars of STEM program, I’ve been able to become the role model I didn’t really have as a science-loving kid.”

Superstar of STEM and environmental ecologist Dr Jennie Mallela said “women are a minority group in science and it was amazing to be surrounded by these exceptional female scientists”.

“We had women of colour, we had Indigenous women, we had people of white European background, and that was brilliant to see the range and diversity of women in science.”

Ms Schubert said the program was about building capacity in the STEM sector so more women have the confidence and training to be on the public stage and become go-to STEM experts in the media.  

Ms Schubert said women from diverse backgrounds were especially encouraged to apply.

“We need the talents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women of colour, women in underrepresented disciplines, women from the LGBTQIA+ and disability communities, women in regional areas and women right across the stages of their careers in this program and in STEM.”

“That strong commitment to diversity has been key to the success of Superstars.”

Supported by the federal Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the next 60 Superstars of STEM will participate in the program over two years, starting in January 2021.

Applications open tomorrow – Tuesday 4 August – and close at midnight on 31 August 2020. Successful candidates will be named at the end of this year.

To apply or find out more:

Video on the program:

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