The federal government announced yesterday that it will appoint a “Women in Science ambassador” to travel to schools around Australia and encourage young girls to pursue careers in science and technology.
It sounds like a good idea – but talking to teens is not enough.
We argue that an ambassador needs to do more than just encourage interest. Such a person should address structure and culture, and remove barriers that impede women’s progress in science and technology, which are still in place even in 2018.
Until the mid-late nineteenth century women were unwelcome at universities, and not allowed to study subjects or work in fields like maths and physics, which were reserved exclusively for men. The legacy of this deliberately biased beginning is alive and well in the structure and culture of modern STEMM disciplines.