It’s hoped that Australian women will soon be positively charging into the field of science in greater numbers.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – sporting two International Women’s Day ribbons and a bright pink tie – on Thursday told students at a Sydney all-girls high school that “girls can do anything and everything”.
He cited Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons as a “superstar” example of how women are kicking goals in science.
Just as Professor Simmons is a leader in quantum physics another female could soon be heading Australia’s first space agency.
Without giving too much away, the Prime Minister on Thursday said there was “every chance” a woman would be chosen to be at the helm.
Earlier, at Burwood Girls High School, Mr Turnbull announced the creation of a new ambassador for women in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – positions.
The yet-to-be-named ambassador will be an advocate for women in science and will travel the country to inspire the next generation of scientists.
The PM noted there were fewer girls studying STEM subjects despite there being more opportunities in the field. He hopes the ambassador will encourage girls to choose careers in science and technology.
The announcement was made after Mr Turnbull, Professor Simmons and federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer received a lesson in structural engineering from year 10 students at the school.
The students demonstrated how they used technology and coding to build a miniature bridge that could hold up to 18 kilograms.
In what is sometimes seen as a male-dominated field, Professor Simmons, who is working towards building the world’s first quantum computer, talked to the students about the barriers she’s faced.
“People didn’t expect girls to be as good as boys in physics and maths,” she said.
“That really fired me up … I love the challenge.”
Professor Simmons also urged the girls to make up their own minds about what career they’d pursue.
“One of the things you have to be very careful of in life is to forge your own path and not to look at what other people are doing and replicate what they’ve done,” she said.
“See what it is that motivates you every day.”