New galaxy of Superstars of STEM mentors

A high-powered constellation of leaders including Australian CEOs, Chief Scientists, a Cabinet Minister, company directors, journalists and top executives have signed up to mentor the latest Superstars of STEM.

Superstar mentor Joanne Woo and Superstar of STEM Dr Tamara Keeley.

Over the next 18 months, they will share leadership insights and practical advice – and open doors and contact books – to help the Superstars step further into the media spotlight.

Superstars of STEM is a game-changing Australian initiative to smash gender assumptions about who can work in science – and transform women’s visibility in STEM. In its first few years, it has made an early powerful contribution to help tackle the serious under-representation of women in these fields.

The program equips 60 brilliant diverse women with advanced communication skills and opportunities – in the media, on stage and in schools. The result: we’re growing a critical mass of celebrity women scientists inspiring our next generations.

In the program, each Superstar is matched with an impressive mentor. Mentors are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds and careers. All are accomplished leaders who have forged their own path to success.

Each mentor meets regularly with their Superstar of STEM over 18 months, providing support and advice as they navigate a path to grow their public profile. This crucial connection supports Superstars to strive for the next level of success in their own careers and step into the media spotlight.

The current intake of Superstars will be mentored by impressive leaders including senior executives Keren Rambow of GE and Rowena Westphalen of Salesforce, TV and radio presenter Jo Stanley, journalists and broadcasters Rae Johnston and Louise Willis, Minister for Home Affairs and former Science Minister Hon Karen Andrews MP, New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor Dame Juliet Gerrard and Chief Scientist of South Australia Caroline McMillen.

Mentors also include high-flying engineers Jane MacMaster and Professor Elanor Huntington, the Australian Defence Force’s new Space Division chief Cath Roberts, scientist Associate Professor Caroline Ford, science and research sector CEOs Anna-Maria Arabia and Catriona Jackson, and trailblazing entrepreneurs like Topaz Conway and Winitha Bonney OAM.

Scientific Futurist Dr Catherine Ball has been a mentor across three Superstars of STEM groups. She says the mentoring program benefits both her and the Superstar.

“Successful mentoring is a two-way street and a constructive dialogue, with both mentor and mentee gaining something significant and lasting,” she said.

“I’m so proud and excited to be a Superstars of STEM mentor again this year, as I have gained so much, and met a couple of amazing women, as well as working out where I can best add value to people’s experiences throughout their career.”

The Global Head of Communications at engineering company ABB, Joanne Woo, has supported the program since it began in 2017.

“Having been a mentor on the program since its inception, I have seen the transformative power of visibility to drive real change,” she said.

“I continue to be inspired by everyone in the program – together they are trailblazing the way for an equal world where diverse opinions are heard and valued.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Indigenous education, law, financial services, funds management, journalism, not-for-profit sector leader and Superstars of STEM mentor Shirley Chowdhary.

“Every time a female scientist or technologist is interviewed in the media, seen on tv, or heard on the radio, she is smashing stereotypes. Every girl watching knows that she can do it too; that being a scientist is not just for boys,” she said.

“The Superstars are amazing women and there was no question that I would participate again. I feel like I am the winner here. I get to hang out with incredible women in fields that are way beyond my understanding.

“It’s a huge privilege and I’m always learning. What’s not to love!”

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