House debates

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Constituency Statements

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

4:48 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

Amid all the ephemeral sludge that inhabits social media, it's good to find some nuggets, some really interesting things, that are there. I invite members to look at the #WomenScienceDay hashtag. It is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and therefore I think it's worth exploring the great work that's being carried out by our own superstars of STEM today and indeed every day, whether they're researching exome sequencing for kids with intellectual disabilities or researching environmental impacts in Antarctica, whether they're planning bushfire ecological assessments for New South Wales waterways or talking to girls in schools about careers in STEM. These are remarkable stories of women carrying out vital work in the nation's interest, every day.

The Superstars of STEM program that was established by Science and Technology Australia in 2017 continues to play a huge role in inspiring girls and young women to study and to stay in STEM. To all the women working in science across Australia on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I say to you, as shadow minister for science: federal Labor supports you. Federal Labor believes that science is at the heart of the future of our country and our economy, and it is therefore critical that we have women and girls participate more fully. Science provides employment opportunities, opportunities for industry to grow, expand and innovate, and opportunities for businesses to develop. Science integrates skills, knowledge, people, enterprise and progress. It is about the food we eat, the water we drink, how we engage, how we travel, the environment in which we live, the medicines we take when we are sick, our national security and prosperity, and the jobs of the future.

It is government's role to remove barriers to allow science, research and discovery to flourish; it is not its role to erect them. So to my colleagues opposite: I recommend you take five minutes away from the chaos and remind yourselves of the great productive work that is being carried out by some of our best and brightest women. And to all of the STEM women out there: happy International Day Women and Girls in Science and keep doing what you do. I echo and agree with the comments of the member for Hotham when she said that we need to do more to improve the participation of girls in STEM subjects and to ensure that women have employment opportunities in these vital areas. It's something that can be encouraged by business leaders but by government too, and I call upon government to do more in order to see more women in this important area.