Putting women and girls at the centre of efforts to recover from COVID-19.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have seen the growing number of stories on the news in Australia about gender equality and the under-representation of women sitting in senior roles in businesses, politics, and STEM.

Dr Emily Yap is a Research Engineer at the Industry 4.0 Hub and a committee member of the Women’s Research Engineers Network (WREN). The Industry 4.0 Hub and WREN were established less than a year apart and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. In a time where the world is challenged with a global pandemic that has worsened pre-existing gender inequalities, it is even more critical now to “put women and girls at the centre of efforts to recover from COVID-19”, as said by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres [1-3]. Aligned with targeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), WREN and the Industry 4.0 Hub are platforms to address and reduce barriers for women to enter and advance in a STEM career.  

A report from the Australian Academy of Science found that 59% of women remain in STEM because of their personal passion yet 36% of women leave their careers in STEM because of a lack of opportunities [4]. These opportunities tend to come in the form of successful grant funding and projects. As women are less likely to be awarded, it leads to lower productivity, which is typically assessed as publications. WREN is a means to tackle the all-too-familiar “leaky pipeline” where an increasing number of women leave STEM fields throughout the career trajectory from entry-level to senior positions in academia or the workforce. This “leaky pipeline” behaviour is a result of several barriers such as sociocultural norms that has sustained over many decades, as well as systematic obstacles that has led to a lack of recognition and promotion of women’s contributions to STEM.  

For the full article from Research and Innovation Magazine please click here.