Today, Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) joins with nations around the world to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, acknowledging the past and present contribution of women working to close the gender gap in the field of science.
Throughout the centuries, countless courageous and open-minded women—many of whom were denied access to universities or recognition for their contributions—have pushed the boundaries in science and helped shape our world. The likes of Mary Somerville, Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin have been role models to young women and pioneers in a field of study which over time has been a predominantly male domain.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the removal of boundaries and growing opportunities for young women and girls to engage in science has sparked real change.
In 2020, more than half of the students enrolled in HSC science-based subjects in CEDoW secondary schools were female, with biology boasting a 70% female student enrolment rate.
Thanks to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and robotics programs offered in schools, girls in both primary and secondary settings are now experiencing more of what science has to offer – and making significant contributions themselves.
From environmental design challenges led by the Young Change Agents in partnership with The Academy of Enterprising Girls, to coding with VEX Robotics, mBot competitions and dedicated STEM days, CEDoW students are learning to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.
A love of science and discovery of the unknown has inspired many young women from Catholic high schools and colleges in the Diocese of Wollongong to study and pursue careers in the field of science – including seven of our students below.
Jessica Dyer and Georgia Richards – Year 12, Corpus Christi Catholic College, Oak Flats
Inspired by the women who have come before her, Jessica Dyer plans to follow in their footsteps and enter into a science-based career.
“I’ve always enjoyed studying science,” she said, “What I love is that it’s engaging, challenging and pushes me to extend my thinking and explore new ideas.”
For Georgia Richards, the study of science will continue to provide opportunities for further learning.
“Studying science allows me to gain a deeper understanding of life and provides me with the opportunity to apply my knowledge and solve problems relating to the real world,” she said.
“I am planning to pursue a science-based career in the future, most likely in the field of medical science or biomedical engineering.”
Maya Jancevski - Year 11, St Francis Catholic College, Edmondson Park
The recent coronavirus pandemic has sparked a particular interest for Maya Jancevski, who believes science is a learning base and building block to the technologies and understandings of our contemporary world.
“The spread and influence COVID-19 has had on civilisation is alarming. Science continues to evolve and develop throughout each discovery,” said Maya.
"Building on my love for science, I’m planning to pursue a science-based career as it is continuously changing and intriguing to witness first-hand the discoveries and battles.”
Yasmin Willis – Year 12, St John the Evangelist CAtholic High School, Nowra
Yasmin Willis [pictured right] feels she has a natural aptitude for science.
“I love that I can learn to understand the intricate nature of the world around me. Next year I hope to study a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and Law, and use my degree to implement renewable energy into Australia and work towards a clean future.”
Tahlia Leechburch Auwers - Year 12, John Therry Catholic College, Rosemeadow
Research and writing scientific reports have developed Tahlia's interest in science.
“I enjoy learning about new phenomena. I also enjoy formulating hypotheses, asking questions, and then testing through experimentation to find answers,” she said.
“I am planning on pursuing a career as a forensic pathologist because I feel new things to research and new questions will arise, allowing me to enjoy my job.”
Amelia Kaag - Yr 12, Holy Spirit College, Bellambi
Like Georgia, Amelia Kaag enjoys studying science and wants to discover more about how the world works.
“I love to learn about the universe, what makes up the world around us, and find it fascinating,” she said. “I want to be an engineer to apply science and maths in a practical way.”
Emma Schultz - Year 12, St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Albion Park
Emma plans to pursue a career that combines both her passion for helping people and science.
“Science is one of my passions, it’s something I enjoy and do well in. In chemistry, we learn about everything that makes up our world, while in biology we learn about all the things that make us humans,” said Emma.
“I’m planning to pursue a career in medicine after school in either research or as a medical practitioner.”
Like the female trailblazers who have come before them, may the passion these young students have for science inspire future generations of young girls to follow suit and seize the opportunity to close the gender gap in a field of study that needs them.
Catholic schools are enrolling now. If you’d like to know more about the diverse faith and learning opportunities our primary and secondary schools can offer your son or daughter, please contact your local Catholic school.