Empowering women in STEM: Breaking barriers and inspiring change

The underrepresentation of women in STEM fields has long been a systemic issue globally, including in Australia. With only 13% of women in STEM occupations, it is clear that a significant gender gap exists. A lack of awareness, limited role models and mentors, life interruptions, and barriers to career development opportunities contribute to this disparity. 

In response, our not-for-profit organisation has launched the Seed2STEM project. This initiative combines two Geelong Manufacturing Council-led key programs: Girls Leading Advanced Manufacturing (GLAM) and the Women in Manufacturing Network (WIMN). 

GLAM focuses on addressing the imbalance in STEM education at the high school level. By offering immersive experiences, workshops, industry tours, and interactions with female professionals, GLAM encourages Year 9 and 10 girls to consider manufacturing as a viable career path. The program has seen impressive results, with 94.5% of participants reporting increased knowledge of STEM opportunities and 100% expressing their intention to pursue tertiary STEM degrees. 

However, the challenges persist for women already in the industry. Male-dominated cultures, caregiving responsibilities, stereotypes, and a lack of female role models can hinder women’s advancement and retention in STEM careers. This is where WIMN comes into play. The program provides mentorship to women seeking career progression, improved communication skills, and guidance on navigating systemic obstacles. By matching mentees with appropriate mentors based on various factors, WIMN helps dismantle barriers and promotes inclusivity. 

Interestingly, our organisation found that involving male mentors in the program yielded positive outcomes. Approximately 35% of mentors were male, and they also benefited from the experience, gaining a deeper understanding of gender issues and becoming motivated to promote inclusivity and equality in their own workplaces. 

Through the combined efforts of GLAM and WIMN, we are making significant strides in empowering women and girls in STEM. By breaking down barriers, providing support, and fostering inclusivity, we are creating a more equitable future for women in engineering and manufacturing industries. 

Submit an EOI for the 2024 S2S WIMN Mentoring Program (Ballarat)

The Seed2STEM Program: Empowering Women in STEM 

Our program is designed to break down barriers and create pathways for women in STEM fields. With a focus on regional Victoria, we are committed to expanding capacity and providing additional channels for STEM education and career entry. 

Here’s what we’re doing to make a difference: 

  1. Strategic partnerships: We have developed a formal partnership framework with GForce, a regional employment agency. We are also rolling out this framework to employment agencies in three key locations—Geelong, Bendigo, and Ballarat—to increase registrations for our WIMN.
  2. Empowering schools: We are formalising and improving the framework for high school adoption of our GLAM initiative. We will work closely with schools to develop internal promotion strategies that encourage enrolment and participation.
  3. School partnerships: Our School Partnership Framework will be rolled out to schools in four regional VIC centres—Geelong, Colac, Bendigo, and Ballarat. This collaborative effort will ensure more young women have access to our programs and the opportunities they offer.
  4. Industry immersion: We will enrol and deliver the GLAM industry-immersion stream to over 140 young women over two years, reaching a capacity of 100 women per year—an impressive 400% increase! This intensive experience will provide valuable insights into the world of engineering and manufacturing.
  5. Mentorship for progression: Through our WIMN, we will enrol and deliver the mentoring stream to over 90 women over two years, with a capacity for 60 women per year—a remarkable 300% increase. Our mentors will provide guidance and support, empowering women to advance in their careers.
  6. Amplifying awareness: We will improve our marketing and communication materials, expanding our reach to regional VIC locations and attracting additional mentors. By spreading the word about our programs, we can create a stronger network of support and opportunities.
  7. Collaboration & data collection: We will engage regional school career advisors and VET/TAFE coordinators to establish channels and raise awareness about STEM pathways. Through data collection and collaboration with schools, employment agencies, participants, and industry partners, we will continuously refine our advocacy strategies.
  8. Inclusivity & diversity: We are committed to reducing barriers to workforce progression and re-entry for women facing intersectional barriers. As part of this effort, we are waiving the WIMN program fee for First Nations, low-income, and refugee/migrant women.
  9. VET partnerships: We will promote STEM pathways for women through partnerships with VET providers, highlighting VET-based engineering and manufacturing opportunities within GLAM and WIMN.
  10. Sharing knowledge: To foster a community of learning and growth, we will release digital content, industry reports, and action points of the Seed2STEM program to the regional engineering and manufacturing community.

Join us in breaking barriers, fostering inclusivity, and creating a brighter future for women in STEM. Together, we can inspire change and unlock endless possibilities. 

Breaking barriers & inspiring change: join the empowering women in STEM movement! 
Are you a young woman considering a career in STEM? The underrepresentation of women in STEM is a global issue, and we’re here to break down barriers and empower you on your journey. Introducing the Seed2STEM project, a groundbreaking initiative combining two powerful programs: GLAM and the WIMN. Let’s pave the way for a more inclusive future in engineering and manufacturing.  

Levelling the playing field: GLAM inspires future women in manufacturing
Did you know that by Year 12, boys outnumber girls in physics and advanced mathematics courses by up to 3:1? We’re changing the game with GLAM an immersive program for Year 9 and 10 girls. Through engaging workshops, industry tours, and inspiring discussions with female professionals, GLAM opens doors to manufacturing careers and tertiary STEM degrees. Let’s bridge the gender gap in STEM education! GLAM is part of our Seed2Stem program. 

Nurturing your STEM journey: WIMN supports women in manufacturing careers
Making strides in the STEM industry can be challenging for women, but you’re not alone. The WIMN is here to provide mentorship, career progression guidance, and increased confidence. Join our network of inspiring women and discover how we can break through the barriers together. WIMN is part of our Seed2Stem program. 

Empowering women, inspiring change: male mentors join the movement
We believe that diversity and inclusion are key to driving change.  That’s why we’re proud to involve male mentors in our programs. Approximately 35% of our mentors are men, and they have gained a deeper understanding of gender issues. Together, we’re creating a more inclusive and equal workplace for everyone. Join us and be a part of the movement for change!  

Join the empowering women in STEM movement: together, we can make a difference!
Are you passionate about empowering women in STEM? Together, we’re making significant strides in breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity. Join us as we pave the way for a more equitable future in engineering and manufacturing. Let’s celebrate women’s achievements, inspire the next generation, and create a supportive community that propels us all forward.  

Together, we can make a difference!