A record number of young women applied for the latest Curious Minds STEM camps this year, with the successful 120 applicants to attend their first virtual camp this month.
The Curious Minds program inspires more girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
It is very encouraging there were 323 applications this year – a record.
I congratulate the 120 girls from all around Australia who will enter the program, which could be an introduction to a long and successful STEM career.
Of the 120 participants, 116 come from rural and remote areas and from low socio-economic backgrounds. Eleven are Indigenous.
There are 42 new STEM coaches, and 28 returning coaches for these camps.
Many of our future jobs will require STEM skills.
Women are less likely than men to pursue a higher education in STEM.
The latest data from 2019 shows only nine per cent of women enrolled in universities and other higher education providers were studying higher education STEM subjects, compared to 31 per cent of men.
Women accounted for just 18 per cent of enrolments in engineering and related technologies and 19 per cent of enrolments in Information Technology.
These camps are important in getting more women into STEM industries.
Curious Minds is helping drive change, with 93 per cent of participants from the last program reporting they enjoyed the program and 95 per cent saying they would recommend it to other students and peers.
The Curious Minds program gives Year 9 and 10 students the opportunity to participate in camps in December and July each year.
The students engage in a variety of integrated STEM activities including sieving and viewing sediment for microplastics, investigating recycled materials, and cybersecurity workshops.
Students also meet like-minded individuals and female STEM professionals. Each participant receives six months of mentoring from a female STEM professional between camps.
The virtual summer camp for students from SA, WA, NT and QLD will be hosted from the University of Adelaide from 4-7 December.
The virtual camp for students from NSW, ACT, VIC and TAS students will be conducted from the Australian National University in Canberra from 11-14 December.
The program is delivered by the Australian Mathematics Trust, in collaboration with Australian Science Innovations.
More information is available at www.curiousminds.edu.au