Let's Talk: Women in STEM

Austrade celebrated International Women's Day 2024 with a special Study Australia live event. Watch the recording to hear from some amazing international students and alumnae in STEM.

Thai student working in materials science laboratory using the high temperature scanning tunneling microscope while another student observes at UNSW Materials and Manufacturing Futures Institute (MMFI) .

Let's Talk: Women in STEM was a celebration of International Women's Day 2024, focusing on inspiring women in STEM fields. 

Dr Ruwangi Fernando, an accomplished IT expert, AI specialist and founder of STEM Sisters, joined us as the panel chair.  

The panelists included: 

  • Dr Javiera Olivares Rojas from Chille: Recently completed a PhD in conservation biology at Monash University. She has just started a new role as research fellow. 
  • Victoria Bashu from Bangladesh: Undertaking her PhD in nuclear physics and accelerator applications at Australian National University. 
  • Gabriella Angelica from Indonesia: Studying a Bachelor of Molecular Sciences and Master of Biomedical Science at The University of Western Australia. 
  • Adiba Zarin from Bangladesh: Studied a Master of Information Technology at Macquarie University. She now works as an information technology consultant in financial services. 

Watch the recording

Highlights from the event 

Women in STEM in Australia 

Ruwangi shared some interesting statistics on STEM that highlight the opportunities available:  

  • Recent studies have shown that Australia offers significant opportunities in STEM fields, with a projected need for 1.2 million additional tech workers by 2030. 
  • By 2025, 90% of jobs available will require STEM skills.  
  • Currently, only 27% of women are represented in the Australian STEM ecosystem, presenting substantial growth potential. 
  • Australia has very strict sustainability goals set therefore meeting all these challenges means we need more people in STEM.  

Study and career highlights 

Ruwangi asked the panellists what the highlight of their studies or career has been:  


The people Javiera has met, the networks she has built, and the support systems have been very important to her. She has attended conferences and been inspired by people in her field and has loved connecting with like-minded people with similar values.  


Victoria’s highlight is working underground! One of her current projects is taking place in the first underground physics laboratory. It is located in a goldmine in regional Victoria and is one kilometre deep. She had to go through a lot of training to be one of the few people who can go there. They are using a detector which will search for dark matter.  


Gabriella’s majors are biochemistry and physiology and so her highlight is the practical element of her studies. In biochemistry she looks at things on a molecular level and studies things like viruses. For Physiology she looks at organs and muscles. Another highlight for her was  working alongside PhD students in the research lab, where she felt she was helping to make a difference.  


When Adiba started her studies, she was very nervous. But she soon gained confidence when she started achieving high grades. Eventually, she was offered internships and additional projects that gave her hands on experience. She was even able to present some of her research at a conference in Melbourne. Her current job makes her feel grateful every day as she is constantly learning new things.  

The importance of representation for women in STEM 

Ruwnagi explained that having women in STEM is not just an agenda for women, it benefits the entire society. STEM focusses on innovation which is driven by diversity. She asked the panel what we need to do to attract more women to STEM. 

Some of the things discussed included: 

  • The need to showcase women in science and technology careers to girls and break down gender stereotypes associated with different fields. 
  • Providing engaging and hands-on activities to introduce girls to STEM subjects from a young age. 
  • Creating mentorship opportunities, workshops and support networks to encourage women to pursue STEM careers. 

Support services for women in STEM 

As it was highlighted above, the need for support services for women in STEM is important. The panel discussed some of the services that they’ve found helpful:  

  • STEM Sisters, a nonprofit organisation, provides support services specifically tailored to women of color in STEM, including mentoring, ambassador programs and an award-winning magazine. 
  • Each state and territory has a study destination agency that offers free support for international students. They offer student ambassador programs, provide international students with a sense of belonging, and organise cultural events to help students feel at home. 
  • Australian universities offer mental health support and buddy programs to help international students cope with the challenges of living in a new country. 
  • University graduate associations and study support services provide networking opportunities, career development workshops, volunteering opportunities and financial assistance to international students. 

Watch the recording to find out more 

The speakers provided so much value and shared more of their stories and experiences. Watch the recording above to also hear: 

  • Why the panellists chose their field and to study in Australia.  
  • How STEM disciplines are evolving with innovations.  

Considering a career in STEM?  

If you’re considering a career in STEM, start your journey today! Head to our Course Search tool and start enquiring with universities. Or learn more about scholarships here.