Mentors boost female confidence in STEM education

Mentors boost female confidence in STEM education
This week, 58 girls from Years 8, 9 and 10 are being paired with female scientists who are mentoring them in physics, chemistry and mathematics.

The Curious Minds program, being held at the University of NSW in Sydney this week, is a government-funded initiative run by Australian Science Innovations (ASI), a provider of science programs, competitions and residential camps for academic high achievers.

The participating students, who were selected on the strength of their performance in school science and maths competitions, will meet weekly with their mentors on a weekly basis to discuss science news, career pathways and study options.

Below, The Educator speaks to Ruth Carr, executive director of ASI to find out more.

TE: What can you tell us about how the Curious Minds program has progressed since its inception?
Since Curious Minds’ inception, we have been monitoring the impact of the program on the girls and found that there has been a significant increase in the girls’ confidence, interest and ability in STEM. This success can be based on creating an environment where the girls can learn new skills in a safe and supportive environment and see a clear pathway for themselves in STEM through exposing them to role models.

TE: In your view, what are the most powerful ways in which the program is helping to drive improved STEM engagement among female students both now and in the year ahead?
Through the mentoring program the girls gain exposure to real life STEM role models and they can see there is a place for women to have a successful STEM career. The girls also gain confidence in their ability. At the beginning of Curious Minds, many doubted if they were good enough. By being selected to attend this program their confidence grew, so did their success in STEM subject at school and the likelihood of choosing it at university. Curious Minds also exposes the girls to new areas of STEM. Through guest lectures, excursions and practical activities, the girls experience the application of STEM in real life scenarios. It shows them that there are many interesting and worthwhile careers in STEM.

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