Championing the need for change for Women in STEM

Participating in the launch of the Male Champions of Change report Harnessing Our Innovation Potential last month, Dr Finkel has called for continued efforts to support women who want to work in science and technology related roles.

The report has found that while women and men enter STEM with high levels of motivation to solve complex problems facing the world, women are more likely than men to consider leaving STEM jobs. They also report that they experience significantly more barriers to progression than men.

“In my capacity as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I can shine a light on the need to ensure that everyone who wants to work in science, irrespective of gender or background, is supported to do so. It’s perplexing to me that people are not paid equally for the work they do; and it’s concerning to me that this report has data that says the best people are not always being promoted.”

Reflecting on the importance of the Male Champions of Change program, Dr Finkel said that, “… the most important reason of all to be a champion for change is that I want to live in a society in which fairness is an overarching principle. Valuing diversity, and providing equal opportunities and rewards, is the foundation of fairness in society.”

He congratulated the team from Accenture which conducted the survey that formed the basis of the report, noting that, “Whether you should ignore or respond to a survey should not be determined by whether you agree or disagree with the majority opinion. It should depend on the robustness of the methodology. This report has the decency to publish its own methodology and it is clear that it is robust.”

He continued, saying that the strength of the survey was in its large number of respondents, with a good spread across organisational sectors, and a high level of male respondents.

“This report plays a critical role in the change environment: it provides data – an evidence base. Why do we need data? Data transforms unconscious bias into the stark reality of conscious bias, which then means we can be consciously un-biased.”

Dr Finkel thanked Ann Sherry and her team for the work of the Male Champions of Change program, and encouraged his co-champions to continue to advocate for diversity in all of their endeavours.

“Be a champion in that historical sense of the word: fight the good fight on behalf of others, to achieve change.”