News & Events

Changing the narrative


International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February)

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.

While women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, half of its potential, less than 30 per cent of Science researchers worldwide are women. Only around 30 per cent of female student select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment in natural science, mathematics and statistics is less than 5 per cent and is around 8 per cent in engineering and construction.*

World leaders agree that celebrating women and girls who are leading innovation and removing barriers that hold them back, is essential to achieve peaceful societies with full human potential and sustainable development.

In order to improve gender equality and promote equal access and opportunity for all, the United Nations declared 11 February the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

As part of its 2020 celebrations of this initiative, the Bendigo Tech School showcased three local science heroes including Catherine McAuley College’s own Ms Ember Chittenden. Ms Chittenden is the Interdisciplinary Learning Leader (IDLL) based at Coolock, a Science teacher and lecturer in Science Education.

Her mission is to inspire both students and educators to change what Science education looks like. She is motivated by the difficulties and discouragement she encountered throughout secondary and tertiary education as a woman in science. This inspired Ms Chittenden to change the dynamics of Science education and is something that still drives her to this day.

“When I was a child, I was the girl who was forever testing, observing, experimenting, questioning and exploring how things worked. I liked to pull apart broken items such as radios, toy cars, old toys –I was inquisitive. I loved experimenting.

“I decided to take my love of learning to try to inspire the next generation of Scientists, Engineers, Linguists, Mathematicians. I have spent the last 20 years aiming to inspire students to pursue their dreams and nurturing their spirit of curiosity. I have been fortunate to teach both here and abroad, as well as helping shape the future of Science Education by lecturing at a local University.”

Ms Chittenden’s advice for young students interested in pursuing a career in Science is to be bold; don’t be told it can’t be done. “As an educator, I hope to inspire more female students to undertake Science professions. If Science is your aspiration, embrace it and enjoy the journey”.

*UNESCO 2014-2016