Soapbox event set to empower women scientists

Soapbox event set to empower women scientists
Brendan Rees

An event celebrating women academics in science is set to be held outside the State Library in August as part of National Science Week.

The first-ever Soapbox Science event in Melbourne will see 12 inspirational women speakers from the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) engaging and sharing their knowledge with the public on August 19.

Soapbox Science is a novel public outreach platform for promoting women and non-binary scientists and the science they do. It transforms public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate.

STEM Sisters, a diverse group in Melbourne aimed at empowering women in the STEM field, will host the free event which will be held between 2pm and 5pm at the forecourt of the State Library.

STEM Sisters founder Ruwangi Fernando said just under 40 per cent of the Australian STEM workforce was female and even less for culturally diverse women.

“Australia requires a more diverse STEM population as diversity hugely benefits technological and scientific innovation,” she said.

“Many Australian STEM organisations support women in STEM, but no specific organisation in Australia supports STEM women of colour – STEM Sisters was initiated to bridge this gap.”

Ms Fernando said without diversity in science, there would be a loss of talent and knowledge, “therefore, STEM Sisters is committed to supporting diversity and providing a platform for women’s representation in STEM.”

“Given the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the push for effective science communication has been more important than ever.”

“These crucial and transferable skills for researchers to inform, educate and raise awareness of their work to a broad audience is fundamental to building a relationship with science and the public.”

The group will use its $10,000 grant, which it received earlier this year through the City of Melbourne’s 2022 Connected Communities Grants program, to host the Soapbox Science event. •

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