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STEMM's got talent but nearly lost it

15 December 2017
Overcoming the obstacles for women to succeed
The University of Sydney has joined forces with other leading universities and organisations to better represent the talents of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) education and careers.

STEMM's got talent, but nearly lost it.

Over eight months, the University of Sydney and its partners contributed energy, ideas and action to ensure STEMM-related fields benefit from diverse minds, diverse knowledge and skill-sets, and diverse human networks to respond quickly, intelligently and in impactful ways.

This project resulted in the cross-institutional video ‘STEMM’s got talent, but nearly lost it’, which captures the stories of successful individuals who have pursued careers in science; how at times, they nearly turned away from STEMM, and how a range of obstacles were overcome along the way.

It also explores their institution’s role in unlocking and harnessing the potential of the human mind, regardless of gender. The participating institutions are the University of Sydney, the University of Canberra (UC), The Australian National University (ANU), CSIRO, University of South Australia (UniSA) and Cambridge.

Our leaders are committed to this effort.

The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence: “We stand firm in our commitment to advancing gender equity, promoting women in leadership and furthering women’s education. Through the SAGE and other University initiatives, we are fostering the careers of outstanding women in STEMM and seeking to remove the obstacles that prevent women from achieving their full potential. By working together with our partners across higher education, we can continue to drive change and open the way for more women to succeed in Australian science and technology.”

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini: “The University of Canberra has long been committed to developing and fostering an environment that promotes gender equality. Through this culture, we have seen first-hand the positive impact a diverse workforce has on our capacity to facilitate transformative learning and research, particularly in STEMM. It’s important that we continue to unlock and harness the potential of the human mind for the benefit of our community and beyond, and gender should not stand in the way of this. Not now, not ever.”

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AO: “For ANU, the SAGE initiative is a program that will help the University both think about the problems around gender equity, and then find ways to fix those problems. We are delighted to be working with other research institutions in our region to break down barriers and inspire more women to have rewarding careers in STEMM.”

CSIRO Deputy Chief Executive Craig Roy: “It takes billions of grains of sand to make a beach, but it only takes a small number of inspirational stories to change the world – ‘STEMMS’s got talent, but nearly lost it’ shows us that it is possible to change the future of science and humanity. We need all the talent we can harness – let’s do it, grain by grain, story by story, step by step.”

CSU Executive Dean of Science Professor Tim Wess: “The tide is turning. The way we judge and do science has to be more inclusive where diversity brings strength. These stories of gendered tenacity should be a thing of the past for our daughters.”

The film features physicist Professor Tanya Monro (University of South Australia), early-career researcher and biochemist Dr Anna El-Tahchy (CSIRO Agriculture and Food), mathematician Professor Nalini Joshi (University of Sydney), Dr John Rolley researcher in nursing and clinical medicine (University of Canberra), Professor Emily Banks epidemiologist and public health physician (ANU), Professor Frances Shannon epigenetics and immunology scientist (University of Canberra), and Dame Ottoline Leyser, Plant developmental biologist and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory (Cambridge).

As an individual you can share your own story and reach out to hear those of others: contact us at