During her time at ANU, Francesca Maclean has been a champion for gender equity in STEM. She co-founded Fifty50, a student-run volunteer organisation that develops an equitable and inclusive environment for STEM students at ANU, and provides a clear and supportive pathway to STEM graduate destinations.
"If we can take advantage of that diversity, it means that we can solve the problems that our society is facing a lot more effectively, and that the solutions we design are for everyone - not just for some."
Francesca's vision is to address gender equity in STEM as a social problem, not a women's problem. She has created a strengths-based organisation that involves all genders in mentoring, raises awareness, and provides development opportunities for all students to pursue STEM career pathways.
"A highlight of Fifty50 has been when first year female students tell me that it is the first time they have been exposed to a diverse range of role models in engineering, and that they feel empowered by these experiences. This is incredibly important as they currently comprise only 20 per cent of the student population."
Francesca has also volunteered as a mentor in the Curious Minds Program (run by the Australian Mathematics Trust). Her significant mentoring and leadership contributions to the ACT community resulted in her being named ACT Young Woman of the Year in 2017.
Francesca is also one of 30 Superstars of STEM with Science &Technology Australia. "I believe this is a great program designed to provide role models and fill a gap in increasing the visibility of women in STEM, because you can't be what you can't see."