Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (18:08): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Jaala Pulford. This adjournment matter relates to the portfolio responsibilities of innovation, medical research and the digital economy. Victorian girls are reducing the gender imbalance in study numbers and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. The differences in interest and confidence in STEM tends to appear at an early age. This is a huge concern for innovation and diverse thinking in STEM professions and research.
While more and more Victorian girls are pursuing STEM education, only 28 per cent of tertiary students enrolled to study in STEM fields are women. Being a scientist myself, I feel disheartened looking at these numbers. To help improve the participation of girls and women in STEM, the Andrews Labor government is backing multiple STEM-based programs, initiatives and events, working closely with industry and STEM organisations to support girls and women in school, university and the workforce. Under-representation of women and girls in STEM is a major impediment to our scientific potential. The Andrews Labor government has developed a STEM map to improve the visibility of STEM activities. There are over 175 programs in total. The action I seek from the minister is to direct her department with an update on what it is doing to promote the Women and Girls in STEM map to girls and women in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region.
We know by 2023 in Australia, STEM jobs are predicted to grow faster than any other occupation. While this is great news, we also know girls and women are vastly underrepresented in STEM across the state. We know there are many opportunities to get involved in STEM available in Victoria, but it can sometimes be hard to know where they all are.
This is why the Victorian Government developed the Women and Girls in STEM Map which I launched at the end of January. The map is an easy to use online resource listing more than 170 programs, events and activities designed specifically for girls and women wanting to be involved in STEM.
It will help girls and women of Western Metropolitan Region, at the primary, secondary, university and professional levels kick off their STEM career as it will, all Victorian girls and women. The map includes events and awards, competitions, development and mentoring, professional networks and internships, there will be something for everyone.
We want to give Victorian girls and women, including those in Western Metropolitan Region every opportunity to explore a career in STEM. We are doing this by giving them the tools and support they need to feel empowered to be involved with the STEM community and have exciting careers.