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What does the next generation think of today’s issues? The Big Smoke’s Next Gen program publishes Australian students mentored by TBS writers. Today, Giselle Atlas (12) wants her female classmates to embrace science as their future careers.
Student: Giselle Atlas
Mentor: Valerie Buhajiar
Topic: Young female students receding from STEM subjects in school.
It has come to my attention that apparently female students from the ages of 12-16 are becoming less and less interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This was very interesting to me as all throughout my life I have wanted to be doctor, and so have some of my friends. When I was younger I even saved up 50 dollars, which was a lot of money to me, to buy a hardcover science book.
I believe girls should always do STEM subjects because they are fundamental when it comes to our education; but I have done some research and have found out some reasons why girls may not be interested in these topics, so let’s begin.
First, when you Google “top ten scientists”, you find that there’s only one woman on that list. One. (It makes you wonder who wrote that list.)
But if you look up “top female scientists” there are hundreds that come up. Maybe it’s the fact that the media does not talk about females who have accomplished wonderful things in the STEM area, which is just not right. There are many, many amazing females in those areas: Marie Curie (physicist and chemist), Ada Lovelace (mathematician), and Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, the women who went unappreciated at NASA although they contributed so much to science and engineering and helped make the United States space program such a success.
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While I was at school I took the time to ask one of the science teachers her thoughts on this issue. This is what she told me:
“I have not found this in my recent years at this school. Our senior science subjects have very full classes, and in some subjects two full classes. And that is very impressive for a small school. Science is benefitting, almost to the point where humanities subjects such as History are struggling to make classes.
I think this is because most of our Science faculty is female – we set the example to our students that it is possible for girls to achieve in what some would call non-traditional roles. We set an example of achievement within the sciences. Girls are also aware that to move forward we need a better understanding of the world we live in and the way to do this is through studying science-based subjects.”
Have you thought about the fact that STEM subjects are not compulsory in some places? It’s true that STEM subjects are usually only available as electives. This is sad because science, engineering, technology and mathematics are very important to all of us, because they give us a good foundation to understanding how the world works. I’m fortunate to have good role models at my school, but not everyone is that lucky.
To them, I say that there are plenty of successful women in STEM areas who are doing brilliant things that need to be recognised and acknowledged. It’s up to we girls to show the world that we can do anything – and we will!
This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.
The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.
For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact