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23 Super Women Leading STEM

Here's just a small group of 23 super women leading in their fields, breaking barriers & inspiring the next generation into STEM!

Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen OAM

Futurist, diversity expert, researcher, & founder of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation

Jenine’s Tech Girls Movement Foundation programs & Tech Girls are superheroes books that inject creativity & imagination through development programs both online & in-person, to give girls aged 7-17 access to hands-on technology, STEM women mentors & an opportunity to experience leadership and build their skills and confidence. Over the past 7 years, Jenine & her team have engaged more than 10,000 schoolgirls in hands-on STEM entrepreneurship education.

Jenine’s recent book, 5 things You Can Do To Engage Girls in STEM is a comprehensive summary of the state of representation of girls & women in STEM in Australia in 2019 & provides a practical framework we can use to start changing the playing field. The 5 things we can do are described by Jenine’s model of AEIOU which stands for Autonomy, Ethos, Involvement, Otherness & Us-ness.

Jenine has overcome rough beginnings. Still troubled by doubts of not being good enough & learning about vulnerability, Jenine shows us how you can be good enough. Her motto is “it does not have to be perfect. 80% is good enough. Life is short so give it a go.”

Dr. Catherine Fargher

Creative writer, researcher, lecturer, & EdTech start-up founder & entrepreneur

An early pioneer integrating & innovating Science, Art & Education, Catherine’s colourful career is culminating with her start-up. EdTech Dr. Egg Adventure Lab, is a cross-curricular digital story world platform. Catherine is creating new, imaginative ways to teach and inspire Science in the classroom.

Dr. Catherine has a deeply rooted noble goal to produce work that leaves a legacy that improves humanity through creativity & imagination. Dr. Egg was hatched 7 years ago as a real-life stage play & has evolved through Catherine’s creative pursuits. Catherine’s PhD in creative writing explored the ethics of reproduction science by creating imaginative story worlds to inquire and inform adults and school-age children about the complex science of genetics and reproduction. Just imagine yourself or your grandmother sitting at home in a rocking chair with your knitting needles creating DNA strands. Looking and teaching science through Catherine’s lens of creative narrative and fable has been capturing the imagination of audiences through plays at Sydney Opera House and the USA and Canada. Today Dr. Egg Adventures is being developed as an online digital adventure story world to teach 7-11 year olds good science through fun imaginative characters and narrative, in conjunction with Macquarie University Education so it aligns with the school curriculum. This is a ground-breaking development integrating and synthesizing the "kooky" aspects of creative writing and the more logical subjects like Science.

Download free resources from Dr. Egg for teachers, students, and parents to support and nurture your young scientists. This creative teaching platform is a fun & inspiring way to attract more young girls to engage with Science & stay inspired to pursue careers in STEMM.

Dr Anne Forbes

Academic researcher, teacher, & advocate for girls and women in STEMM

Softly spoken and fiercely tenacious about her vision for science in schools, Anne is the coordinator of strategic STEM projects & senior lecturer of STEM education for primary & early childhood at Macquarie University. The workload balance between teaching, ever-increasing administration & research is stressful, but her passion to teach good science to teachers & students keeps her challenging the status quo in the system. By teaching teachers how to teach science in creative & engaging ways, where students "get their hands dirty": do their own data collection, analyse their own data sets of things instead of textbook or worksheet data, kids learn to construct good scientific questions and experimental methods.

Anne developed an accredited research informed mentoring program, MyScience that brings scientist mentors into schools and transforms the way kids see and experience Science.

Dr. Onisha Patel

Structural biologist, artist, & STEMM advocate at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Onisha’s passion outside of the lab is creating art from scientific data & campaigning for equality & intersectional collaboration and leadership in science.

What does art have to do with science and in particular structural biology, a study of the molecular structures of life at the nanoscale? As a structural biologist, Onisha looks at the structure and shape of protein molecules. When proteins don’t work properly, they can cause diseases. Understanding the shape of protein molecules can help design medicines to target them when they become faulty. Art is what got Onisha into science.

In academia, Onisha has been challenged to stand up to bullying 7 discrimination: "When you are an outcast in a "conformed" place you need to have a clear goal of getting a job done while fighting against the odds & constantly proving your worth.”

Onisha is a leading light on intersectional leadership. How do we create more visible opportunities for young women to explore their potential and become leaders in their chosen field? These are some of the hard questions Onisha has had the courage to ask and act toward finding answers.

Professor Xinhua Wu

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Precinct Partnerships) Monash University & Founder of AmPro Innovations

Xinhua Wu is a world-leading Materials Science Engineer committed to excellence who shares some of her career stories and her perspective on science, research, and how to encourage more women to choose STEMM careers.

Xinhua sticks to the facts and does the best work she possibly can. How to create an intentional influence of a quietly and deliberately spoken, facts-driven leader and how to get heard, understood, and respected are some of her leadership skills. In addition to her passion and determination, Xinhua makes sure she works in the top team and has team members who are like-minded and spirited in producing excellence for their industry partners.

Professor Julie Cairney

Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor of Engineering Sydney University & CEO Microscopy Australia

Julie’s career in engineering academia and industry is driven by her quest to find ways to do something that can change the world and have an impact. Julie was encouraged to do physics and maths at school, and was always interested in science and how to use science to achieve something and not just for the fundamentals of why an atom moves the way it does, but how engineering can make things better to have an impact in the world. Curiosity about metallurgical engineering as it sounded like fun led to her career decisions.

Engineering is not just about hard hats and mining although that is a fabulous profession. It's the curiosity and application of fundamental science that inspired Julie into a hybrid career of academic industry-led research and a leadership role as CEO of Microscopy Australia.

"Don’t be afraid to aspire to leadership roles. Let your managers and peers know so they think of you when these roles come up."

Professor Anna Paradowska

Industry Engagement Manager at ACNS, ANSTO & Conjoint Professor in Advanced Structural Materials at University of Sydney

Anna migrated to Australia from Poland to pursue her PhD in mechanical engineering. Being the only girl in many rooms in University Engineering classes never bothered her. She excels in finding ways to turn adversity into benefits.

Anna is dyslexic but chose to adapt her brain to want to find quick solutions instead of using her reading difficulty as a reason to quit. She was a good student but being dyslexic meant she never could be the best. She was just good. And Anna claims it allows her to fail and improve, fail, and improve and that has become her internal strength. Focusing on doing what she can to get the goals and choosing to have no fear of failure, she learnt where her niche is and has a thorough understanding of her strengths and weaknesses.

Anna is a self-confessed workaholic now redirecting some of that time and energy to her young family. She nourishes her natural aptitude for integrating and synthesising complex data sets and translating those into actions that create better, safer outcomes for people and our world.

Anna’s mother’s advice has guided her through the motherhood-career ambition push-pull that many women experience:

“Nobody unhappy can make anybody happy. So, make yourself happy and they will be happy around you. Think of you, what you want to do and share the love and passion that you have. Do what you want to do, and your children will grow with you.”

Anna finds reading challenging and whilst others may have used this as a reason to choose non-academic careers, by the age of 42 Anna has attained very high levels in academia in Engineering which continues to be a very male-dominated field.

Professor Didar Zowghi

Professor of Software Engineering, Deputy Dean of Graduate Research School, University of Technology

Didar has come through significant discrimination throughout her life & career which could have derailed her career at any stage. Despite this, Didar chooses to focus her energy on producing outcomes such as excellence in software engineering teaching, research collaborations and extensive mentoring.

A passion and single-mindedness for maths from a young age and curiosity to make and break things led Didar on the journey across 3 continents and 3 universities before settling for Computer Science and Software Engineering at UTS (University of Technology Sydney). Work ethics, focus, and determination with a deep and wide curiosity for purposeful research has paved the way for Didar's rich and colourful academic career. “Be useful and finish what you start.”

Didar investigates human centered software design and development. Her research is focused on improving software development processes and products by empowering and engaging software users effectively throughout the entire process. In particular, Didar’s research addresses issues in the communication-rich, multidisciplinary activities of software development known as requirements engineering. She is an expert in the "Evidenced Based" and “Design Science” research methods. She has conducted and supervised many empirical field studies in requirements engineering, collaborative and distributed software development, technology adoption and diffusion, mobile learning, data quality and digital transformation. She has published over 200 research articles, co-authored with 90+ researchers from 30+ different countries.

Dr Muneera Bano

Senior lecturer in software engineering Deakin University, Superstar of STEM, Winner Under-40 most influential Asian-Australian 2019

Muneera never had a female role model growing up, so she decided to be one.

“This is my biggest motivation: to be a role model for other girls and women by sharing my story. I made the decision to pursue a PhD and I kept reminding myself that I have to overcome the challenges to get the goal. The transformation of our personalities takes place while we struggle for our dreams. I'm the first one to break the concrete ceiling for all the women in our part of the world; to lead through example that it's not impossible.”

We learn about what is required in leadership and influence in AI and complex computer software engineering from our earlier stage leaders like Muneera by her far-reaching vision that drives her choices. While we look towards an advanced technological future with AI at the back, the digital divide of under-privileged and under-represented groups of people could increase substantially. More initiatives are needed now than ever before to ensure that the future belongs to all, regardless of their gender, race, identity, or socio-economic status. Muneera is continuously developing and expanding her own skills and effectiveness as she teaches and influences others about the nature and direction of software technology development.

Kathy Campbell

Director, Ockham Consulting, & experienced STEM NED Board member

Large scale business and digital IT transformation has as much to do with people as it does with software, hardware, and workflows. The psychology of human behaviour sits front and centre of everything we do in large scale transformation projects. Kathy pulls together the strategy, process, and people to achieve successful enterprise-level system change. She brings those soft skills and te