Women who are excelling in science, maths, engineering and technology are being showcased in a new exhibition at the Bendigo Tech School.
The STEMpowered exhibition, a collaboration between Her Place Women’s Museum Australia and the Department of Education and Training, has been traveling around to different tech schools in Victoria since August.
“The STEMpowered exhibition and forum celebrates our local STEM heroes and provides the opportunity for girls to find out about the skills, abilities and knowledge they will need,” Bendigo Tech School Director Graeme Wiggins said.
Professor Pauleen Bennett, head of La Trobe University's Department of Psychology and Counselling, is one of the local women whose work is being showcased.
“I think it’s great to get women into science,” she said. “There’s just this cultural unwillingness to recognise that women are just as legitimately good at doing science as men are.”
“Women who don’t get involved are missing out,” she said. “But so is the community by not having all the amazing people and amazing brains doing things that are good for the community.”
Professor Bennett, who is also the Director of the Anthrozoology Research Group Dog Lab, is conducting new and vital research into understanding the relationships between humans and animals.
“We mostly work with dogs because the human-dog relationship is so critical,” Professor Bennett said. “I’m really interested in how important they are in people’s lives and the roles they play in terms of making people happier.”
Another woman who is being recognised in the STEMpowered exhibition is Natasha Barthomeusz, a graduate electrical engineer at Thales Group Bendigo.
“I’m really pretty privileged to be part of this exhibition,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about what other women do in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) as well as people’s different experiences.”
Ms Barthomeusz said the exhibition shows her journey of "falling in love" with engineering.
“When I first learnt about engineering, I thought it was all one answer, one solution," she said. "But I've learnt the idea of creative design thinking, of appropriate design, and thinking about the client."
Jude Anderson, Artistic Director at Punctum, is also showcased in the exhibition.
She collaborates with scientists to look at the local repercussions of global issues, like climate change.
“Scientists are relying on art to communicate the information they are working on,” she said. “And art is a platform that goes right across sciences because you undergo research and undertake experiments.”
“I think curiosity is fundamental to art and science,” Ms Anderson said. “Never be afraid to make mistakes because where there’s potential for failure, you can come up with innovation.”
Alissa Van Soest, a Science Communicator at Discovery Bendigo, said she wanted to part of the exhibition to "inspire and nurture curiosity".
“You have to see it to be it," she said. "It’s about changing perspectives so people believe that science is for everyone and not just a special few.”
The STEMpowered exhibition will run at the Bendigo Tech School until March 11. It is open to the public from 3pm - 5pm on weekdays.
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