WiTWA welcomes new Committee Member

WiTWA is delighted to welcome Maree Morrell to the WiTWA Committee. Maree Maree has extensive accounts experience having worked for over 20 years in both the petrochemical industry in NZ and the engineering industry in Western Australia. She is currently working towards an IT degree majoring in Cyber Forensics and Information Security at Murdoch University. As a mentor at her local Coderdojo, she strongly believes in the value of teaching young people to move beyond simply using technology, to utilising it as a tool to create their future. Maree is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion both at University and through her involvement with WITWA.

Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Grant

In December 2016 the Department of Industry Innovation and Science awarded WiTWA a grant under the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Program to fund our techtrails STEM incursion program. This Federal Government Program aims to support women in STEM and remove barriers that stop women taking part in STEM education and careers, including entrepreneurship. The initiative also provides funding for businesses, not-for-profits and research organisations to support outreach programmes that target girls and women to encourage their interest in entrepreneurship, develop their innovation and entrepreneurial skills and build their professional networks.

For WiTWA this grant will go towards funding the delivery of our techtrails STEM incursion program to 10 schools throughout WA in 2017.  Our unique WiTWA program celebrates STEM role models in science and research, entrepreneurship and corporate leadership to inspire secondary students. As one of only 24 national recipients in this first grant round (and being only 1 of 3 WA recipients), we are incredible proud of having the impact and success of our techtrails program recognised in this manner. 

Acknowledging the declining numbers of students choosing technology, science and engineering career paths, WiTWA launched the techtrails STEM outreach program in 2010, with the first techtrail delivered in 2011. The program is designed to generate passion, excitement and interest in technology and science based careers to motivate secondary students to explore and pursue related study and career opportunities.

We present techtrails incursions to both female and male students, emphasising the importance of positive female role modelling of women in STEM careers to all genders. The program is targeted at girls and boys in years 9 and 10, predominantly studying in regional schools and those with a strong STEM technology focus. Since inception the program has reached over 1,100 students.  The positive feedback from students and teachers alike has been to date overwhelming. 

We are thrilled that this grant will enable us to now expand our reach significantly and deliver 8 techtrails in the Perth metro area and 2 in regional WA throughout 2017. We will also be hosting 2 techtrails for teachers and educators later in the year! If you would like to help us in delivering this program either as a speaker, volunteer or industry supporter, please get in touch with any one of our Committee members; we would love to hear from you!

WITWA chair change

Marjolein Towler being presented gifts OF APPRECIATION by Pia Turcinov

Marjolein Towler being presented gifts OF APPRECIATION by Pia Turcinov

After 10 years as Chair of Women in Technology WA, Marjolein Towler is vacating the position to make place for joint Chairs Pia Turcinov and Daniela Mattheys. Pia will be in charge of the techtrails program, which, thanks to the Women in STEM & Entrepreneurship grant will expand to 8 metro and 2 regional events in 2017. Daniela will be the co-Chair of the networking and industry events.

 

WiTWA welcomes new Committee Members

WiTWA is delighted to welcome on board two new committee members, Anitra Robertson and Kay Hargreaves. Both ladies bring a wealth of expertise, experience and enthusiasm to WiTWA and we are privileged to have them on board.

Anitra is the Chief Operating Officer of Perth based medical technology company, Surgical Realities. Leveraging today's advancements in technology, Anitra has partnered with leading universities to establish evidence-based applications of virtual and augmented reality in medical training and patient care. Recently, Anitra established Smartbots, a non-medical arm of Surgical Realities and distributor of robotic technologies into education, aged care and retail.

Before launching Surgical Realities, Anitra managed change and communications projects with mining company Rio Tinto for 12 years. This included the introduction of autonomous trucks and drilling technology into Pilbara mining operations as part of Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future®.

With a double degree in Communications, Anitra is now finalising her post-graduate diploma in Science (Psychology) at the University of Western Australia.

Anitra will be taking on the role of Secretary for WiTWA.

Kay Hargreaves is the owner and Managing Director of Colleagues Information Solutions (CIS) which specialises in transforming the way organisations collect, manage, use and apply data.

She has over 30 years working and consulting experience in the digital data arena. She is passionate about technology and uses her natural enthusiasm for continuous improvement and her technical experience to help organisations gain a competitive advantage through innovation. Kay encourages people to question normality and promotes collaboration to generate new ideas that improve productivity and lead organisations towards high performance.

Kay will be undertaking the role of Volunteer Coordinator at WiTWA.

Feel free to reach out and meet Kay and Anitra at one of our exciting events in 2017. 

Annual ACS WA Diversity Dinner - We're Not All Ones & Zeros

The Australian Computer Society Diversity Dinner: #ACSNotBinary is an annual ACSW Gala event. The event is attended by around 100 guests from a range of sectors within the Tech industry and it is a chance to celebrate all that we are, in awesome company, over a delicious three course meal. This year the event will be held at Crown Perth on Friday the 18th November, 2016 from 6:30pm. The “We’re not all Ones and Zeros Diversity Dinner” is a great opportunity to showcase your brand to the wider Tech audience, particularly women in IT. Special guest speaker at this year's event is Fadzi Whande. Click here for further information and to secure your tickets

Fadzi Whande has just been awarded the International Racial Equity Leadership Award at the Courageous Conversations Summit in New Orleans. She was also part of the UN Women Australia delegation chosen to attend the 59th session of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at UN Headquarters in New York. 

 

Women in STEM Roundtable Hosted by The Governor of WA

On Tuesday 11 October, 21 people attended the very first Women in STEM Roundtable Meeting and Morning Tea at Government House in Perth, hosted by Her Excellency the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO (Governor of Western Australia) upon the invitation of Professor Lyn Beazley (Science Ambassador, WA Australian of the Year 2015, Patron of WiTWA’s techtrails program).

The meeting was organised by WiTWA and attended by WiTWA Chair Marjolein Towler and was attended by representatives from a wide range of women organisations in the STEM areas (Engineering, Technology, Mining, Oil & Gas, Construction, Astronomy, Mathematics, Health Sciences, Robotics, Trades) augmented with community, government, business and university representation.

Its aim was to understand both the issues in this particular arena, and the programs and initiatives that are being undertaken by these organisations.

The Governor kindly agreed to host the event as she holds a special interest in STEM and wholeheartedly supports endeavours to increase the interest in STEM in young women, as well as increasing the number of women in leadership positions in our state.

The organisations represented all, in one way or another, are contributing in addressing the problem of the lack of diversity in STEM.  

The morning started off with an address by Her Excellency, and after that there was wide-ranging discussion on key issues in attracting girls and young women to careers in STEM and strategies for addressing these issues.

The discussion ranged from the “Empty Pipe” (girls not choosing to study or pursue Science and Tech), to the “Leaky Pipe” (women leaving careers in STEM throughout their careers), to the “Canary in the Mine” (isolated women and other minorities failing to thrive or worse in a toxic workplace), to the “Dripping Tap” (very few women being appointed to the top positions). It also touched on the unconscious bias that causes someone to say, “what is the problem” or “this diversity talk is all just a fad” or “men cannot be carers”.

Under the guiding hand of facilitator Helen Hardcastle, the discussion was championed by Professor Lyn Beazley.  Three clear areas of interest emerged from the debate:

  • The need to encourage STEM at a young age as well as keeping the interest alive so kids choose the relevant topics for study
  • The need for exemplar organisations with best practice in the area of diversity and equity in both pay and positions
  • The need to retain and sustain women in STEM industries (and elsewhere as this was considered a wider cultural issue)

Participants then shared examples of initiatives that are currently in place to encourage (and support) greater representation of women in STEM. 

WiTWA is very proud to have been able to bring this amazing group of people together. It was a most valuable experience to engage with others who are working to make a difference for women in STEM across academia, education, community, government, and industry sectors.

The conversation has been started and it was clear that everyone there wanted it to continue. It has therefor been decided to reconvene early next year to continue the conversation and to set some achievable goals for the near future.

STEM for Kimberley Girls

Broome Senior High School are looking for speakers at their upcoming STEM for Girls event. The event will be held in Broome on Friday 2 December 2016. Students will be broken into small groups which will rotate between speakers, allowing relaxed presentations and plenty of question time. If you can connect with young people and would like to help foster STEM aspirations in students of the Kimberley please get in touch. Speaker's flights and accommodation will be covered. For further details please contact Angela Sands on 0447 591 583 or angesands@yahoo.com.au.

WiTWA welcomes Anitra Robertson, COO Surgical Realities

We are delighted to announce the recent addition of Anitra Robertson to the WiTWA Committee. Anitra is the Chief Operating Officer of Perth based medical technology company, Surgical Realities. Leveraging today's advancements in technology, Anitra has partnered with leading universities to establish evidence-based applications of virtual and augmented reality in medical training and patient care.  Anitra has presented at international medical technology conferences on clinical research into virtual reality and pre-operative anxiety.

Recently, Anitra established Smartbots, a non-medical arm of Surgical Realities and distributor of robotic technologies into education, aged care and retail. Before launching Surgical Realities, Anitra managed change and communications projects with mining company Rio Tinto for 12 years. This included the introduction of autonomous trucks and drilling technology into Pilbara mining operations as part of Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future®. With a double degree in Communications, Anitra is now finalising her post-graduate diploma in Science (Psychology) at the University of Western Australia. 

For your chance to meet Anitra and get a glimpse of her fantastic technology, join us at our next WiTWA TECHXchange event at the Cheeky Sparrow on 19 October 2016. Further details can be found under our Events section.

WiTWA Techtrails at 2016 Perth Science Festival

On the glorious winter weekend of 13-14 August WiTWA brought its highly successful techtrails progam to the Perth Science Festival. techtrails is an initiative developed to cater for the growing needs for skilled workers for the STEM sectors. This unique incursion programme addresses in particular the lack of Generations Y and Z studying in this field, leading to a future shortage of suitably skilled individuals available in the Technology and Engineering workforce. It targets primarily public and independent public schools with a particular focus on schools that are regional or remotely located, have strong science and technology focus, or have little or no opportunity to present their students with career choices.

Our participation at Perth Science Festival as one of over 50 interactive stalls, in the Perth Cultural Centre marked a significant but highly successful departure from our usual engagement mechanism with secondary students in a school setting. Our interactive panel of over 25 prominent STEM professionals, across a range of industries demonstrated their work to students, their families and the wider community and highlighted the important role science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation play in modern workplaces and future career choices.

We had fabulous interactive sessions including presentations on drone technologies by Chris Leslie of Airscope Industries and Nick Sargeant of Global Unmanned Systems, who had the audience enthralled about the commercial applications of drones, and the possible careers that are opening up in this brand new industry sector. We also had brilliant presentations by Siobhan Stuart, the first female Marine Engineer in the Royal Australian Navy to work on the submarine fleet and her colleague Sean Dowling, who showcased some of the technologies and life support systems available in modern submarines.  

Abbey Potter an entomologist with the Department of Health, brought along a squadron of mosquitoes that the audience could inspect under a microscope drawing a combined sense of fascination and repulsion  from the audience about the environments, physiology and lifecycle of theses pesky  little kritters. Ella Ganfield was a big hit with some of our younger audience members showing off who to do robotics coding, whilst Dr Paola Magni provided some fascinating insights into forensics and crime scene investigations. 

Aggie, the art expert and robot tour guide with the Art Gallery of WA delighted the audience with some cool dance moves whilst the audience was able to interact with our speakers from a range of different disciplines and organisations including Microsoft, Google, Chevron Australia, the Harry Perkins institute, Curtin University, Milne Agri Group, BHP Billiton, Seven West Media and Murdoch University, to name but a few.

techtrails patron and former Chief Scientist of WA, Prof Lyn Beazley said that the program delivered as part of National Science Week, was a resounding success and provided many insights, fun and inspiration to the many people that came to our stall. We had some delicious brownies offered to everyone that came along, kindly made by the home economics students at Ashdale Secondary College with a sensational Nigella Lawson recipe. The whole weekend was captured on video, including speaker interviews and event highlights by the fantastic multimedia students from Ashdale SHS. Keep an eye out on our Techtrails page to view the video!

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our event sponsors, the Department of Local government and Communities, UWA Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Kinetic IT, Scitech, Ashdale Secondary High School as well as our many fantastic presenters and contributors. A full list of supporters and well as more details about the techtrails program can be found on our webpage at http://www.witwa.org.au/techtrails/

For further enquiries relating to this article:

Daniela Mattheys
Media and Communications
WiTWA Executive Committee
Mobile 0434 609141
Daniela@witwa.org.au