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Spotlight on women in science, maths and engineering

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SENATOR THE HON CHRIS EVANS Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research


20 June 2012

Spotlight on women in science, maths and engineering

Providing opportunities for women in science is crucial to ensure the future productivity and global competitiveness of the country, the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, told a newly created bipartisan support group tonight.

The Parliamentary Friends of Women in Science, Maths and Engineering will shine a spotlight on existing opportunities for women in the industry and how those opportunities can be boosted to help Australia achieve its full potential.

“The Chief Scientist’s recently released Health in Australian Science report showed women continue to be underrepresented in science, maths and engineering,” Senator Evans said.

“Although the number of women studying science has risen in recent years, the proportion of women in senior positions is not yet equal.

“Providing equal opportunities and increasing participation of women is not just an equity issue, it’s an economic issue.

“We must ensure more Australians can contribute to today’s knowledge economy and drive innovation to keep the country competitive in the 21st Century.

“It’s about reaching the untapped potential of those who have been locked out and supporting them to reach their full potential.”

A recent CSIRO study showed that of 1727 research scientists, only 21 per cent are women and fewer than 10 per cent at the top salary are women.

In vocational education and training in 2010, females accounted for just 9.5 per cent of students undertaking courses in science, mathematics and engineering (fabrication, mechanical and electrical) trades.

The Parliamentary Friends of Women in Science, Maths and Engineering will help promote careers in science, celebrate the achievements of women in the industry, foster relationships between the industry and political representatives and consider barriers to participation.

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, Australia’s first female Nobel Laureate, was a special guest at the inaugural event.

Specialising in molecular biology and bioethics, Dr Blackburn has pioneered a new field of science, raising the prospects of medical breakthroughs with cancerous cells.

Senator Evans’ Media Contact: Amy McKenna 0408 570 603