16 C
Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

The review on women in STEM: a physicist’s perspective

Latest News

Surf films make a splash at Byron Bay Film Festival

Surfing is a central part of Byron Bay’s identity and this year’s surf films are certain to bring the whole community together in a celebration of athleticism, wild seas and sheer joy in our exquisite environment.

Other News

Editorial – Break out the bubbly for Budget Estimates

Budget Estimates is truly one of the most revealing and best educational services that the NSW government offers. MPs from the opposition grill ministers and agency bosses without mercy, for hours. 

Lismore City Bowlo and all that jazz

What Lismore needs more of now is fun and joy and music and the Lismore Jazz Club’s popular monthly gigs are about to return to help make that happen.

Don’t forget your life jacket

A statewide waterway compliance blitz has found a that a large number of boaters are failing to carry and wear a lifejacket as requuried.

Dreaming of Midsummer

Byron Ballet Company is currently preparing for one of the world’s most beloved ballets, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This...

Labor leader promises to stop Murwillumbah mega-school merger if they win election

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has promised concerned parents, teachers, and the community that if Labor win the next election they will not follow through with the mega-school merger that is currently underway in Murwillumbah.

Police suspect dies at Clothiers Creek

NSW Police say a critical incident investigation has commenced following the death of a man at Clothiers Creek yesterday.

Jodie Bradby. Photo Cosmos Magazine

Brought to you by Cosmos Magazine and The Echo

We have a long road ahead to address the gender imbalance in the workforce.

On Tuesday, 6 September the federal science minister Ed Husic ordered a review into programs designed to encourage and support women into science and technologies. I think such a review is timely as we need a shift in the focus from ‘fixing/promoting women’ to reviewing our organisations and systems. I hope the terms of reference of the review are broad.

As a woman working in the discipline of Physics for the past 20 years, I have definitely noticed a change in attitudes towards women over my career. When I was a student and stood for president of the Physics Student Society, I was shouted down by a group of men chanting “beer, beer, beer” (and was unsurprisingly not elected). I was propositioned by a tutor and being sexually harassed at conferences was sadly routine. I had to fight for maternity leave as I was on nearing the end of my contract and it was “unclear” if I was eligible.

Today such issues no doubt still exist, but I feel that the dial has shifted and there is an expectation that such experiences should be a thing of the past.

Universities are very aware of the need to support and promote women. Programs to support women with a mentoring and leadership focus are impactful and do help shift attitudes.

Frankly, I think if we did not have these programs the numbers of women in STEM would have dropped over the last decade. So mindsets are changing, but we are hitting a wall as we are still working within the confines of systems that remain essentially untouched.

More on women in STEM: The persistent gender gap in science

The next wave of change in this area will have to focus on the systems and structures of our sector. This will be hard. The sector will need help from experts. The big issues that are always identified by women, and indeed other chronically under-represented groups in STEM, as barriers to participation are lack of job security, unclear career pathways, and sexual harassment, cannot be addressed by a single program or initiative.

I remain optimistic that we are moving in the right direction and hope that the current review moves the focus to these systems. This will be complex, difficult, and will require long term thinking. Luckily, we in STEM love a big challenge.

This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Jodie Bradby. Jodie Bradby is a professor at the Research School of Physics at the Australian National University, and the immediate Past President of the Australian Institute of Physics.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. There are vastly greater inequities we should be addressing first. Women are vastly under represented as sewerage workers. There is a lack of female participation in climbing mobile phone towers and running high voltage power lines. We have a lack of blue haired women as front line troops, and why is everyone I see hauling garbage a patriarchal male.

    If more men in STEM would step up and identify as women, this problem could be solved over night.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Just us, with the wild goat

Simon Haslam I don’t know if you can recall one of those luminous moments in your life when it just seemed to be you, perhaps...

Lambruk Pantry

Simon Haslam Lambruk Pantry is a family-owned local gourmet providore based in the heart of the Byron Shire. If you’re looking for something classy, that’s...

Oliver’s happy hens

‘If you can look after fifty chickens’, Oliver tells me, ‘you might as well look after 500.’ In between a steady stream of customers...

Alstonville takes out top tier of the Oceania Cup

The Oceania Cup delivered exciting and close football for the 19 teams that competed across last weekend at the Alstonville FC’s Crawford Park fields. The...