- ChemCentre sets the pace for representation of women in STEM
- Women make up 55.6 per cent of ChemCentre workforce
- State STEM panel looking at increasing female participation in STEM-related fields
For the first time at ChemCentre, one of its emergency response teams is made up entirely of women.
ChemCentre's emergency response service operates 24/7 to provide specialist scientific expertise in dealing with hazardous materials, especially chemical threats. Women now make up just under half the total number of 24 specialist scientists who provide this service.
The emergency response team plays a key role in State Disaster Management Plans, supporting the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, WA Police and other government agencies.
Science Minister Dave Kelly and Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk met the scientists at ChemCentre ahead of International Day of Women and Girls in Science to see the women 'in action' in a demonstration of their expertise.
Established in the 1890s, ChemCentre is Australia's oldest NATA accredited scientific laboratory. It employed its first female scientist in the late 1920s.
Today, women make up 55.6 per cent of the ChemCentre workforce, which is well above the national figure of 28 per cent of the STEM-qualified Australian workforce and above the 47 per cent employed nationally in the natural and physical sciences area.
The McGowan Government is working towards its election commitment of developing a State STEM strategy that includes a focus on increasing female representation in STEM-related fields.
Comments attributed to Science Minister Dave Kelly:
"Science is critical to the future of our economy and creating local jobs.
"I congratulate ChemCentre on fostering an inclusive culture and the work done to reduce the barriers to the advancement of women in the workplace.
"The emergency response service, together with ChemCentre's other expert analytical and forensic services highlight the many STEM-related career pathways that are available to women in science.
"The McGowan Government is currently working towards a State STEM strategy which will include a focus on attracting more women to STEM-related fields and encouraging business to reduce barriers to women."
Comments attributed to Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk:
"The number of women working in non-traditional areas of employment is woefully low. For example, only 12 per cent of the State's engineers are women.
"Every girl in Western Australia should have the opportunity to reach her full potential, including pursuing careers in fields where women have typically been underrepresented, such as in STEM.
"Just recently there was recognition of women's ability in science with the appointment of Professor Michelle Simmons as Australian of the Year. We need to see more of this but government can't do it alone.
"The responsibility has to be shared across all sectors - and we have a long way to go - but organisations like ChemCentre are showing great leadership on the issue."
Science Minister's office - 6552 6100
Women's Interests Minister's office - 6552 6600