Equality in STEM

Shannon Walsh
Head of Science
Ipswich State High School

Shannon is a scientist who has moved into education. She reflects on her own experiences as a young woman in science and wonders what has changed for young women in a physics classroom in 2020. She considers the bigger picture and observes that what limits girls in STEM is not a lack of talent or ability but a complex interplay of stereotyping and gender bias that slowly shapes their views of their own ability and aptitude for STEM.

Then she offers the example of the STEM excellence program that has run at Ipswich State High since 2015. It won a Peter Doherty Award in 2015, and was nominated for the best national STEM program in 2019. This is a practical example of a way forward, where pedagogy is based on inquiry learning supported by authentic experiences. Real-life learning makes sense to girls and is further bolstered by visits from career engineers and scientists, as well as a partnership with UQ Women in Engineering.