The ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science will partner with Northrop Grumman to understand how young women interact and learn within STEM subjects to improve the retention of women in STEM tertiary education.
This anthropological study is a collaboration between the College and the ANU Centre of Social Research and Methods and will be led by prominent Demographer, Dr Liz Allen.
Dr Allen is a proud advocate for females in STEM and is delighted to be working on this interdisciplinary research project.
"Equality of representation in STEM is crucial to the workforce needs of the future. Greater diversity, especially in engineering and computing science education, means better and more effective solutions for all people. Tomorrow's tough problems are best solved, and innovations created, through reflecting a myriad of needs, uses and experiences.
Through engagement with students, the research team will better understand the experiences and motivations of girls in pursuing STEM education. The results of this study, made possible through generous support from Northrop Grumman, will enable a stronger, smarter and more inclusive tomorrow with benefits for all," said Dr Allen.
Dean of the College, Professor Elanor Huntington, was thrilled to announce this project.
"The College is dedicated to driving greater participation from more diverse cohorts into our disciplines to tackle the grand challenges facing the world. This requires interdisciplinary thinking and I'm thrilled to be taking an anthropological approach to address the critical issue of diversity in STEM.
The University is committed to educating the next generation of well-rounded technology leaders and empowering them to solve issues of global importance," said Professor Huntington.
As part of the program, ANU researchers and student anthropologists will travel to primary and high schools around Australia.
Longer term, the program hopes to achieve a more diverse and engaged undergraduate engineering and computing community at ANU with a 50/50 gender split.
"The shortage of science-based talent in our workplaces and universities, particularly among women, represents a serious problem for our nation and the development of our high-technology culture, society and economy.
The important research by Dr Allen and the ANU researchers will help improve the retention of women in STEM disciplines, which will be to the benefit of all," said Warren King, interim Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman Australia.
The study is an initiative of the College's Reimagine project, an initiative to redefine the engineering and computing disciplines for the 21st century.