Central Victorian girls with a talent for maths and science are eligible for a new scholarship that organisers hope will encourage more women to try their hand at male-dominated careers.
Bendigo’s Zonta Club are launching a STEM scholarship for high school graduates – STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – in celebration of long-serving member Anne Horrocks, who enjoyed a successful career as a scientist.
Club spokesperson Sue Clarke said her group created the scholarship as a way of combating the low number of women who are choosing STEM degrees and career pathways, a finding backed by the Australian government’s national innovation agenda.
Its website explains just one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women.
Additionally, women occupy fewer than one in five senior researcher positions in Australian universities and around one quarter of the overall STEM workforce.
Attracting more females into technological careers could revolutionize the sorts of research being done across the world, Ms Clarke said.
“Equal representation of gender brings with it new insights,” she said, recalling one of Zonta’s founding members was pilot Amelia Earhart.
The pioneering American’s pursuit of aeronautics was considering groundbreaking before her death in 1937.
But Ms Clarke said more could be done to ensure women were better represented in universities and the workforce.
“The traditional careers are still promoted more at home rather than the science or technology area,” she said.
“We have a lot of bright women in the field and we're keen to welcome more.”
Girls from across central Victoria are eligible for the Anne Shorrocks scholarship, with the winner taking home $1500 over the next two years.
Nominees must have graduated from year 12 and be enrolled in a STEM-related course of study.
The scholarship recipient will be announced at Zonta’s International Women’s Day dinner on March 8, where another award acknowledging the achievements of a senior woman in the community will be presented.
Bendigo’s Zonta club will award the Woman of Achievement award to a nominee aged 55 or older who has demonstrated extraordinary community service.
Ms Clarke said both men and women older than 55 are often not given enough credit for their contribution to the community.
“They just get on and do it,” she said.
“There's not the expectation that there'll be acknowledgment and an award.
“Our community would be a sadder place if it wasn't for the hours that older people put into community volunteering.”
Ms Clarke said the club would award the Woman of Achievement honour annually, focusing on a different demographic each year.
Tickets for the event can be purchased from The Capital, online at www.gotix.com.au or by calling 5434 6100.
Guests will also be entertained by speaker Dannielle Miller who will explore the topic of young girl’s self-esteem in the age of social media.