Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Celebrating Women In STEM

The Whitsunday STEM Challenge invited young women and their families to learn, network and become inspired at a Women in STEM event earlier this week.

Hosted at Whitsunday Anglican School as part of National Science Week, the event aligned with the national theme of ‘Innovation: Powering Future Industries’.

Event Coordinator Leanne Williams said Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) was important for students in this contemporary world with the rise of new technologies.

“This is to inspire our next generation to think outside the square on different available careers,” she said.

“Students need to learn the ability to understand and apply data and develop solutions to complex problems and this event aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits, especially among our young women.”

Students were offered the opportunity to take part in activities linked to STEM careers including virtual reality, robotics, drones, and forensics.

Four guest speakers of different backgrounds also presented to the group before engaging in a panel discussion and Q&A, including keynote speaker Nicola Grobler (Careers with STEM), Rebekah Rhoades (mechanical/CPEng accredited), Emma Jones (Environmental Management) and Kirtee Nadaraja (medical science).

Mechanical Engineer at BMA’s Broadmeadow Mine Rebekah Rhoades hoped to inspire the next generation to follow a career in STEM, saying “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

“I didn’t have the understanding of the resource sector growing up and wasn’t guided in that direction at all,” she said.

“I want to make it visible that we’re (women in STEM) are in existence.

“Our biggest benefit is the lower high school age bracket, so they can start studying the prerequisites and feel safe to do that.”

Year 11 Whitsunday Anglican School student Kashmala Kahn was eager for the opportunity to network and learn about STEM careers, an opportunity she said is rare.

“There’s not many opportunities like this where you get to meet other women who are interested in STEM, specifically robotics,” she said.

“Hopefully I can help my younger friends see that it’s alright to take part in this type of things.”

Councillor Michelle Green (Emcee) with guest speakers Rebekah Rhoades, Kirtee Nadaraja, Emma Jones, and Nicola Grobler

Students from Mackay, Sarina, and Proserpine attended the event, partaking in robotics, VR, drones, and forensics

Photo credit: Sam Gillespie

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