Women in STEMM Q&A

Renowned ABC show Q&A put politics aside for a wonderful and well-received episode on science, with three women in STEMM taking centre stage: Professor Emma Johnston (marine ecologist and presenter of Coast Australia); Dr Tamara Davis (dark matter and energy cosmologist); and Upulie Divisekera (molecular biologist and co-founder of Real Science). They were joined by Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s chief scientist and former President of ATSE) and Professor Brian Greene (world renowned physicist and string theorist).

One audience member asked the panel to comment on the dominance of men in science careers post-PhD and whether there is “something that females find abhorrent in the current scientific review process.” Divisekera notes that women make up around 50% of undergraduate students in STEMM, but the gender breakdown comes down to 17% at senior roles due to subtle biases experienced throughout scientific careers.

Professor Johnston similarly references that she is one among the 17% of women STEMM professors in Australia; a fact that has remained largely unchanged for over five decades, with some science areas being worse off in recent years.  Professor Johnston discusses SAGE as one solution, specifically referencing the partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering in addressing structural and cultural problems in science institutions that affect gender equity and other forms of diversity.

Read more