Australian Science Innovations (ASI) is Australia’s premier provider of innovative and challenging science programs for high achieving students across Australia. In partnership with the Australian Mathematics Trust, ASI delivers Curious Minds – girls in STEM program, designed to address the increasing rate of female underrepresentation in STEM fields.
The Curious Minds program is just one of several opportunities available to all high-achieving students across Australia, with science-based opportunities being offered based on individual circumstances, science-interest, and performance in preliminary examinations.
With most 2021 programs being held virtually, participating girls in the Curious Minds program obtain the opportunity to explore all aspects of STEM – expanding their scientific problem-solving skills and their scientific networks.
Through the organisation’s community investment arm, 3Mgives, 3M provided a US$50,000 (AU$65,282) grant to the Curious Minds program. This program offers a six-month career path initiative for young girls in year 9 and 10 from around Australia, with a strong focus on mentorship and pairing girls with professional females with a STEM background. With the goal to ignite young girls’ passion in STEM education, this program provides a fun, nurturing environment to grow individual confidence and abilities, as well as broaden critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
With a steady increase in STEM-based roles emerging, only 15% of this emergence includes females in STEM. “Gender diversity in STEM is so important – and to stay relevant in a world that is almost 1:1 male to female, we need both men and women’s’ perspectives in the way we design, engineer and create new technologies to better our world going forward,” explained Sherri Hsu, Senior Technical Application Engineer at 3M Australia. “Science is the core of our business, and it’s also our future – and 3M sees the importance of this. We do put an emphasis on advocating science in our everyday lives, and we value STEM positions in the company. 3M sees the importance of Diversity, either by gender, cultural backgrounds, age, et cetera and this filters into the outcome of everything we do.”
3M’s contribution expands the program to add an additional 18 girls from rural and economically disadvantaged circumstances to join the program and enable their first steps into a potential STEM based professional career.
We are proud to recognise two 3Mers who generously participated by giving their time to support this program. Sherri Hsu and Diana Pregonero Guzman – both 3M Senior Application Engineers – actively participated in the Curious Minds Program with their mentees by providing regular mentoring and support sessions which not only help to develop STEM-based abilities and understanding, but also introduce the potential career opportunities available to them in STEM fields.
It’s been a learning process too, for me being part of this program. I’m really enjoying the connection I’m building with my student. She happens to be Taiwanese too and I can really relate to her position and her doubts of the unknown – and that’s what I want to nurture,” Sherri explained. “I do believe that exposure to STEM even without taking a career in STEM in the future would only benefit these students, adding another set of tools to their toolbelts. They can bring another perspective of thinking, use data to drive smarter decisions and question the source and accuracy of information they receive. Our next generation would make smarter decisions, leading to a more productive and sustainable future. It’s an investment worth doing.”
By partnering with organisations such as Curious Minds, 3M helps to ensure our next generation have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to succeed. It is through these interactions that we support and empower the next generation of great leaders, thinkers, and creators – focusing strongly on advancing equitable outcomes in STEM and business for underrepresented and under resourced students.
Recently, 3M announced a commitment to creating greater equity in our communities, business practices, and workplaces – by setting a new global, education-focused goal. The company will advance economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.