Flinders University has unveiled an illuminating project to highlight successful women in Australia’s STEM sector as part of National Science Week (13 – 21 August).
The university’s Illuminating the Face of STEM campaign will involve several nights of light projections and demonstrations shining the faces of high-achieving women in STEM in different locations in and around Rundle Mall. It will also involve a major architectural illumination on the university’s Victoria Square building on the final night – August 19.
The project also aims to encourage gender equality in the sector as well as getting the public more interested in science.
Students and staff from Flinders Faculty of Science and Engineering will lead the campaign throughout Adelaide, wearing colourful lab coats, digital animations, and staging random mobile projections in Rundle Mall to tell stories about their research and career paths in the sciences.
Among the faculty members profiled in the campaign will be SA chief scientist Dr Leanna Read, mathematician Professor Cheryl Praeger, and SA physicist Professor Tanya Monro.
The project received a $15,000 New Initiatives National Science Week SA grant, with SA projection company Illuminart developing the creative content.
Flinders STEM Women Branching Out Group organised the project, with spokeswoman Dr Maria Parappilly saying, “The project aims to break down the stereotype that STEM careers are predominantly for males, and so inspire more girls and women to pursue careers in the field of science.”
“This initiative also aims to increase the visibility/authority of women in science which is a key element in attracting young women to science.”
The group is also launching the Science 50:50 initiative on August 19, a program between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Flinders University which also encourages women to pursue degrees and careers in the STEM sector. It runs under the premise: ‘since half the population is female, why shouldn’t all the scientists and technologists be female as well?’, with school visits, outreach programs, industry immersion, networking, and mentoring events.