The federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, says the “Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review” won’t be complete until the end of this year and Girl Geek Academy says that is too long to wait for funding new programs to increase the number of women and girls in STEM.
“With ‘Women in STEM’ programs under review for most of this year, we currently don’t anticipate any new funding commitments until 2024. The government’s third year in office is far too late to wait, we need action now,” said Girl Geek Academy co-founder, Sarah Moran.
“While we are supportive of the review of ‘Women in STEM’ programs and hope it eventuates in more funding made available in the long term, we cannot ignore the short term fact that women and girls are falling behind.
Ahead of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February), the United Nations highlights in cutting edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals (22%) is a woman.
Girl Geek Academy trained over 1000 high school girls in A.I. in virtual classes without government support and had been hopeful that a change of government would bring about fresh funding to support the growth of similar programs.
“There has been a drought of these type of programs as most organisations, typically run by women, have not survived the impacts of the pandemic. Girl Geek Academy lost 99.9% of our cash flow overnight when COVID hit and the only reason we still exist is because I went and got a day job to keep us alive.
“The government must act as we know women and girls have already slipped too far behind. We’re calling for a solid investment in programs for the May budget to secure much needed support for women in industry to “lift as we climb” – we desperately need to bring young girls through the pipeline.
The October 2022 budget committed $5.8 million over five years towards the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program. But on the flip side, $3.9 million over two years was removed from the Supporting Women’s Mid-Career Transition into the Tech Workforce component of the 2022–23 March Budget measure titled Digital Economy Strategy.
“We are looking at industry shortages across the board in tech, A.I. and cybersecurity, we have to invest in one of our most underutilised resources: women and girls.”
According to the United Nations, despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics.
“Girl Geek Academy were successful recipients of the inaugural Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grants in 2016. We used this funding to build the successful #MissMakesCode program and teaching 1000 teachers to teach coding in the classroom. Over the past 7 years, there have only been four rounds of this funding deployed. That’s simply not enough.
In less than one month, businesses will be gathering around Australia to discuss action for International Women’s Day on March 8.
IWD 2023 Theme: “Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future”
Based on the priority theme for the United Nations 67th Commission on the Status of Women – Cracking the Code highlights the role that bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies, and accessible education can play in combatting discrimination and the marginalisation of women globally.
“We need more than words and cupcakes this year, we need the government to have our back so we can all ‘Crack The Code’ on gender equality together.”
Sarah Moran will be giving the keynote at the Brisbane UN Women International Women’s Day event where she plans to discuss these issues further.
✨ Girl Geek Academy ✨ is a movement to bring one million women and girls into technology careers by 2030.
Established in 2014, Girl Geek Academy has worked with more than 1000 teachers in delivering the National Digital Technologies Curriculum, ran the world’s first hackathon for women, hosted a games career incubator for women in games, built a community of more than 2000 high school girls learning A.I. and has sold over 30,000 copies of “Girl Geeks” – a series of middle-grade fiction books with Penguin Random House about girls exploring the world of STEM.
10 YEARS AGO:
On 20 December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognized that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
On 14 March 2011, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a report at its fifty-fifth session, with agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, and for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.