AMRI played host to 50 young ladies as part of the UNSW STEM Career Week program, a fun and inspirational morning was had by all!

Two weeks ago we had a special morning in the Australian Museum theatre, where a large group of girls gathered, wide-eyed and curious as to what we had in store for them – a fantastic series of presentations from some of our outstanding female scientists. Since its inception, AMRI has endeavoured to play a significant role in the scientific education of young people and the push towards gender balance in STEM careers. Women still make up a far smaller portion of the STEM workforce than men, especially in high-powered roles. AMRI are hoping to help change that.

The aim of the University of New South Wales' STEM Careers Week program is to provide young, bright female minds an insight into the opportunities available for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields. The girls had the opportunity to visit some great locations, including Google, the Commonwealth Bank and our friends over at the Royal Botanic Gardens, to learn about such opportunities.

AMRI put forward an inspirational group of female research scientists to give the girls an idea of what working in museum as a researcher is actually like – it’s as amazing as it sounds! Dr Rebecca Johnson, our Director, opened the event by speaking of the wonderful opportunities she has had in the field, including being the first female in her role at the museum, working under the first female Executive Director & CEO. Dr Jodi Rowley, our resident frog expert, detailed her fun and exciting fieldwork in Vietnam and outback Australia, and also the significant impact she and her team are having on the conservation of Amphibians in our region. Dr Isabel Hyman, one of our Malacology researchers, showed the girls some of her latest work on land snails and how she uses genomics to determine new species, all while juggling her fantastic career with raising three children.

Dr Jacqueline Nguyen, our palaeontology researcher gave the girls more than they bargained for by bringing along some (rather large) fossils of prehistoric giant birds. Jackie is one of only two female researchers in her field in Australia and spoke about her passion for her career, although palaeontology was not a consideration for her until she had already entered university. Finally, Dr Robin Torrence, our resident archaeologist, gave the girls an idea of what it is like studying the ancient peoples of the Pacific – who doesn’t want to work on an island in the Pacific? Using the latest X-ray technology, Robin demonstrated how archaeologists can now do extensive material and wear testing on stone tools to find out more about how people lived many thousands of years ago.

To say the morning was inspirational was an understatement. Our scientists were inundated with lots of curious questions about their work and their life as researchers. We hope we have made an impact on some of the girls who came along on the day and have provided them with some encouragement to consider a career in science.

Alexandra Nuttall, AMRI & External Partnerships Coordinator