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Envirolab Services Melbourne bridging gender gap in STEM

Envirolab Services Melbourne Supporting Women in Science at Agilent and Women in Chemistry Afternoon Tea

Pamela Adams and Analisa Mathrick of our Envirolab Services Melbourne laboratory, this week attended, on Wednesday 15th May, the Agilent and Women in Chemistry Afternoon Tea. The networking event was hosted by The Women in Chemistry (WinC) and the [email protected] group with RACI (Royal Australian Chemical Institute), and featured a presentation by Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr. Amanda Caples, who shared her inspiring career journey to date. Following the presentation, Pamela and Analisa had the opportunity to chat to Dr. Caples (pictured below). 


As a role model in promoting the importance of STEM skills in education, it was inspiring to meet Dr. Caples. After the presentation, Dr. Caples was asked questions about engaging more school children in STEM, particularly those located in regional areas. There was also discussion about ways to make science and maths more compulsory in higher education.


In her response, Dr. Caples spoke about career gaps as well and how taking a backward or side step would encourage females to get back into working.


There is a two-fold issue: how do we get more females in the industry and how do we help women continue to thrive within the industry, if they do decide to take a family break? Parenthood may contribute to the gender gap, in part, due to gender-related cultural expectations and workplace obstacles. Within this context, mothers are more likely to switch to part-time work or leave the workforce.


Addressing the complex challenge of broadening the participation of girls and women in STEM requires addressing the broader sociocultural context that is first experienced during the early years of childhood or the formative years of primary schooling, rather than targeting women later in life. Here, it’s about recognising equitable treatment and that males and females are of equal status and value.   


In delivering change, reach should expand into regional areas such as Ballarat and Bendigo, rather than focusing solely on Melbourne’s metropolitan areas.


Reflecting on her experience at the afternoon tea, Pamela explained the importance of encouraging more young women to stay in science throughout their careers: “Our work culture plays a critical role in creating a gender-neutral environment that supports the professional and personal development of both male and females,” she said.


“Organisations play a major role in acknowledging a person on their merit, and not viewing them as superior or inferior based on their gender.”  


Photo: Pamela Adams, on left with Analisa Mathrick and Dr. Amanda Caples.


Mentoring Our Future Leaders

Females continue to be underrepresented in STEM-related courses and careers. Studies by UNESCO and the Australian Bureau of Statistics have identified that whilst there has been gradual change, females’ motivation to pursue a career in a STEM related field can be influenced by their exposure to STEM prior to and during school. Further, societal norms, subtle gender bias in hiring and promotion and the lack of female role models may make women avoid STEM majors or leave these disciplines prematurely.


At Envirolab, we know how important to have a culture that embraces gender equality and that builds self-confidence in females, especially those in the early stages of their career. For many years, we has been extensively involved in various mentoring schemes. Currently involved in 2019 RACI National Mentoring Program, our “fearless female leaders” provide guidance and share advice to budding scientists. We also hope to provide an invaluable opportunity to develop personal and professional knowledge and skills, and to instil passion and a sense of empowerment into tomorrow’s women leaders in not just STEM, but innovation and entrepreneurship.    


We are incredibly proud of our fearless female leaders involved in this program and who include Pamela Adams and Analisa Mathrick from our Melbourne laboratory; Alex Stenta from our Adelaide office; and Jacinta Hurst from our Envirolab Group Leadership team.


Under the program, mentors and mentees are matched and involve regular meetings. Additional support is also available through a variety of webinars and online workshops, networking events, lectures and workshops at institutions around Australia to all students looking to get a head start in their careers in science.

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