While there are many jobs in the sector, only 28 percent of people working in STEMM industries are women and the Innovative Young Minds (IYM) programme aims to address this under-representation.
The participants in the IYM programme, which will run from Sunday 8 to Friday 13 July, will visit science and technology businesses, research institutes and tertiary education providers. They will also attend a reception at Parliament, where they will meet some of New Zealand's leading scientists, innovators and politicians. Site visits and activities will include learning about Antarctic ice cores, smart paint that can switch on lights, cutting edge virtual reality technologies and fabric forensics.
It’s the second year IYM has been run and more than 90 applications were received from 22 schools in the greater Wellington region. This year there were applicants from 25 different countries and ethnicities including Laos, Myanmar, Tuvalu and Samoa, says Dr Laura Sessions, STEMM Sector Development Manager for Hutt City Council.
“Research says that providing role models is very important. If people can gain confidence and see themselves in a career trajectory, they are more likely to work towards those career goals. We will have a lot of female speakers talking about the different career paths possible and that’s not just in straight science jobs but also science communications, administration for science organisations, data and bio-ethics.
During the week-long residential programme, the students will hear from inspiring women working in the STEMM sector such as Amanda Santos, chief executive of Lower Hutt company Tekron - an industry leader in timing and network synchronization.
“Many of the speakers have had challenges. For example Lucy Morris is a game developer in her 20s and is really passionate about creating a better working culture and working environment for women,” Dr Sessions says.
Lower Hutt’s STEMM enterprises contribute more than $380 million to New Zealand’s economy, employ more than 3,500 people and support a Crown Research Institute, a government innovation precinct and four tertiary institutions and the Hutt City Council is keen to promote development of the sector.
“Hutt City Council is proud to support the Innovative Young Minds programme, which is helping inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists through its hands-on real world approach. Young women are coming out of the programme more motivated than ever to pursue careers in the STEMM sector – it’s fantastic to see,” says Lower Hutt mayor, Ray Wallace.
Hutt City Council and Hutt City Rotary have partnered to deliver the 2018 Innovative Young Minds programme. Other sponsors of the initiative include WREDA (Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency), Victoria University, WelTec and Hutt Mana Charitable Trust.