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Details of talk

TitleBalancing the Equation: A Mentoring Program for First-Year Female Students in STEM
PresenterErica Smith (University of New England)
Author(s)Jackie Reid, Erica Smith
SessionGender Equity and Diversity in Mathematics
Time
Abstract


This talk will be jointly presented by Jackie Reid and Erica Smith (University
of New England).

Women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
(STEM) disciplines internationally. For example, in the USA females are
estimated to represent 24\% of the STEM workforce, and the proportion of females
employed in STEM careers is half the number of female STEM graduates.
Furthermore, women who have advanced degrees in STEM are far more likely to
leave related occupations than women in other professions. There is an even
greater loss of female graduates in the transition to the workforce in the prime
STEM disciplines, which includes mathematics, where only 33\% are female
graduates. This underrepresentation of women is even more marked in the STEM
workforce, where only 12\% are women. A 2013 report from the Australian Council
of Learned Academies includes two key findings that promote the use of mentoring
programs, and course and career counselling to effectively encourage young women
to follow STEM pathways. In 2015, we developed a project designed to assist
first-year female students enrolled in STEM disciplines to make a successful
transition to an ongoing career in STEM. Our objectives were: to identify issues
that students perceive as possible hurdles to a successful progression through
their studies and onto a career in STEM, to provide a multifaceted mentoring
program (Balancing the equation) that assists in recognising, understanding and
addressing potential issues and roadblocks to a sustained and successful career
in STEM, to help build confidence in pursuing career goals, and to support the
development of sound decision-making skills in career planning. The program
targeted first-year on-campus and distance students as they make the transition
to tertiary studies, thereby laying the foundations for students to make
appropriate and effective choices in pursuing and achieving their career goals
during and after university. In this presentation, we will discuss some of the
issues facing women interested in pursuing a career in STEM, with a particular
focus on mathematics, and describe the key components and outcomes of the
program.