STEM mentoring program, Curious Minds held its first workshop of a six month program yesterday. 58 young Australian school girls across years 8, 9 and 10 have travelled to UNSW campus to be mentored by strong, female role models excelling in male-dominated careers.
Curious Minds takes the form of a summer camp, with girls spending five days at UNSW learning about physics, information technology, chemistry, biology, maths, environmental science and more. The girls will also meet a mentor that they will work with over the six month period, setting personal goals and undertaking research work or a project of their choice. Next year, the program will conclude with a winter camp of the same nature.
The program has a selective skew towards girls from regional Australia, or those with limited access to educational resources. This year saw a 20% increase of girls travelling to UNSW from regional towns compared to last year, equalling more than half the total attendees.
“Curious Minds addresses both gender bias and any geographical limitation gaps by offering this experience to high-achieving schoolgirls who have had limited opportunities. Programs such as this are a vital undertaking if we are going to encourage and retain young women’s participation in STEM at school and beyond,” says Curious Minds Patron Dr Cathy Foley.
The program is fighting against declining interests and false societal perceptions in STEM education. Even though year 12 enrolments have increased by 16% overall from 1992 to 2010, STEM enrolments declined 5-10%. 70% of girls enrolled in previous Curious Minds programs had increased interest in STEM subjects and 80% felt increase confidence in those subjects.
To find out more about Curious Minds, check out their website.
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.