ANU female scientists mentoring in Curious Minds program

In December the Australian National University (ANU) hosted 64 school girls for the Curious Minds program. The program is targeted at underrepresented female students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in years 9 and 10 who are disadvantaged, from rural and regional areas and/or Indigenous.

The six-month program involves two residential camps and a coaching program. The coaching program sees each student matched with a female working in a STEM field based on their areas of interest.

Dr Angela McGaughran is a DECRA fellow at ANU working in population genomics. She mentors Mollymook student, Emily Horvat, and hopes to pass on her passion for STEM.

“I hope to guide the students by answering any questions about what a career in STEM actually looks like as it wasn’t clear to me for a long time what a career in science actually looked like,” says Dr McGaughran.

Her mentee, Emily, really wants to immerse herself in the program experience and to improve her knowledge of STEM options for her future.

“I’ve never really known what I’ve wanted to do and I hoped coming here would help me get on track with one course or another,” says Emily.

Another ANU mentor in the program is Kristen Barratt, who is based at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. She studies human genetics to work on embryo development and birth defects.

 “I want to help them meet their goals and to know that it’s okay to change your mind. Not everyone has the same pathway,” says Kristen.

“ANU has a lot of valuable resources but also a lot of really great scientists, particularly female scientists. It’s nice to be given this opportunity to help young women.”

Kristen mentors Ava Meisner from Townsville, who values the networks and friendships she’s made on the first residential camp.

“Most girls I’ve talked to have enjoyed connecting with other girls interested in STEM and finding out their interests, goals and how they plan to achieve them,” says Ava.

The Curious Minds participants will keep in contact with their mentors over the next six months discussing study options and career pathways. They will return to the ANU in July for the second residential camp.

Find out more about being a participant or a mentor in the 2019/20 Curious Minds Program.

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