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What skills shortage? Meet the woman pushing to drive change in STEM

Morley Muse

In the latest episode of The Buzz About STEM podcast we speak to engineer and diversity consultant, Dr Morley Muse

You’ve probably heard a lot about the skills shortage Australia is facing, and ideas about how to fix it. (Including from us! The huge demand for STEM talent is real, and we need more people with the right skills to fill it!)

But when Dr Morley Muse looks at the women she works with on a daily basis, she finds it hard to believe the shortage is as dire as it’s sometimes made out.

Morley points to the Australia’s STEM Workforce report released by Australia’s Chief Scientist in 2020 to illustrate her point. Not only are women already underrepresented in Australia’s STEM workforce, they’re also less likely to find work even when they’re qualified.

According to the statistics highlighted in the report, women born overseas face the highest unemployment rate of all Australians with university STEM qualifications, at 14.1% – a staggering four-times the unemployment rate of Australian-born women with university STEM qualifications. And that’s despite the fact that the majority (56%) of Australia’s university-qualified STEM workforce is born overseas.

You don’t have to have a STEM degree to see that those numbers don’t add up.

Morley herself was born in Nigeria, studied in the UK and is now based in Australia. As a young woman, Morley chose engineering because she wanted to come up with more sustainable fuel sources than the oil she saw drilled in her home country.

Her experiences as a woman of colour in STEM then drove her to push for change. Now in addition to continuing to consult as an engineer, she is on the board of Women in STEMM Australia and co-founded iSTEM Co – a diversity and inclusion consultancy and a recruitment and talent agency which is working to improve the situation for STEM-qualified minority women in Australia.

As an engineer and a woman of colour, Morley says she knows well what it feels like to walk into a lecture hall or a boardroom and “not see anyone else who looks like you”.

Morley’s anecodtes and stories from the frontlines of driving change are sometimes heart-breaking, always inspiring.

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Buzz About STEM podcast in conversation with Dr Morley Muse.


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