In celebration of International Women's Day, RMIT Physics lecturer Gaile Iles and high school student Casey talk about how far women have come in STEM.
Women In STEM - Then and Now
AUDIO: Ambient Music
VISUAL: RMIT Logo appear and then reveals shots of the two stars of the video. Casey, a high school student who is interested in Science and Technology is introduced. Next, Gail, a Physics lecturer at RMIT is introduced. The two sit down for an in conversation style video in a studio, which cuts back and forth between the two with no other visuals.
CAMERA CREW SPEAKS: All right, and rolling.
CASEY SPEAKS: What STEM-related opportunities were available to you when you were my age?
GAIL SPEAKS: There was never anybody who said, "Oh, you can't do physics. You're are a girl." I noticed that there was something not quite as I expected when I took the subjects between 16 and 18 because my class was full of boys, and there were two girl.
CASEY SPEAKS: Oh, really?
Gail: That was the first time that I noticed, oh, it's not even numbers as it had been prior to that. With jobs, if I wanted to go any higher, I soon realised that there were not many women in those roles, so there were probably lots of messages to my unconscious mind at that time that I could do it, but only to a certain level.
CASEY SPEAKS: Looking at your experience and industry, what changes have you seen, if any?
GAIL SPEAKS: There's more women.
CASEY SPEAKS: Yeah.
GAIL SPEAKS: There's more women that I'm shoulder to shoulder with. There are more women in management positions, so I can look up and see, "Ah, I can get there." In a lot of the outreach that I've done, I've spoken with school-age children and, particularly, girls, and some have said that they've been under a lot of pressure from their female friends not to study STEM subjects because they're not cool or it's not what-
CASEY SPEAKS: Oh, really?
GAIL SPEAKS: It's not what girls do. Have you experienced any of that at school or with your friends?
CASEY SPEAKS: I do have a good group of friends, and I feel a lot of them, too, are interested in the sciences, but ...
GAIL SPEAKS: Great.
CASEY SPEAKS: ... a fair ... a lot of them also have other interests, too, but it doesn't really matter because everything is ... whatever you want to do. I guess something else I'd love to ask is what are you excited about for the future?
GAIL SPEAKS: Last year, I was appointed in the department of physics, and I was the first woman, the first academic female in 2017, and these things, these statistics still exists in many places around the world. There are still conferences with all-male speaker lineups. These are the things I want to change, and the more women I have coming up through the ranks, the more choice I'll have.
What advice do you have for me when I'm talking to 16-year-old girls about encouraging them to go into STEM subjects?
CASEY SPEAKS: Sharing your experiences, especially how you began. That's always ...
GAIL SPEAKS: Okay.
CASEY SPEAKS: That's something that I always found very valuable especially when I was in America and I heard all these amazing people talking. They talked about their life journeys from like the very beginning. They basically talked about those deciding moments ...
GAIL SPEAKS: Okay.
CASEY SPEAKS: ... that really kicked them off into whatever path they went into and just how they ... yeah, the opportunities and how they really grabbed a hold of those opportunities, and I think touching on the mentoring part, I think that is something. It's a very generous act and it's very, very helpful to young girls.
GAIL SPEAKS: Is it your plan to go to university?
CASEY SPEAKS: I think I will be a lifelong learner, so university definitely seems like the place to go, and I guess we'll see where it goes from there.
GAIL SPEAKS: Are you thinking of taking a STEM subject?
CASEY SPEAKS: Definitely. I think STEM is where you get the answers and where you find more questions, and it's just ... I think it's a very fulfilling place to be, so I would like to have a career in that.
GAIL SPEAKS: Great. You're really great to have you on board.
CASEY SPEAKS: Thank you.
AUDIO: Ambient music fades
VISUAL: RMIT logo appears
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