4 Women In STEM Who Legit Became Exactly What You Wanted To Be When You Grew Up

The demand for STEM skills is booming right now. By May 2023, the Department of Jobs and Small Business Projects has estimated the number of STEM occupations in Australia will have grown by at least 10.8% – that’s a further 271,300 people working within the industry. Unfortunately, despite huge growth, women are still sorely underrepresented in STEM roles. In addition to a reluctance by girls and women to study STEM subjects, women’s reticence to consider STEM roles is often amplified due to a lack of support and action by employers.

According to SEEK, when asked, 33% (one-third) of women said they’d never considered a STEM role because they feel they aren’t good with numbers, while over half of Aussie females (53% to be exact) have never even considered a career in STEM. It’s a confronting statistic, considering the incredible opportunities and innovation occurring within STEM-related industries.

“I think there’s been more of an acknowledgement that there is a lack of diversity within tech. Many companies are now quite comfortable stating their good intentions around diversity, equity and inclusion, but struggle to follow through with meaningful action,” Danya Azzopardi, Design Lead at SEEK, told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“I know so many women who have left employers because they don’t feel like they’ve been given the same opportunities for remuneration and career progression. There’s no point trying to tick the box of hiring women if a business isn’t willing to invest in their actual careers.”

Despite these boundaries, there are many women making waves in STEM globally right now, shattering expectations and working on world-changing innovations.

Here’s a deeper look into 4 incredible women and the work they’re doing across STEM, proving how wide-reaching the range of jobs and opportunities are within the industry while busting archaic gender stereotypes at the same time.

Danya Azzopardi

Danya is a Design Lead working on the employer web experience at SEEK. Her work revolves around creating a consistent and intuitive user experience and working with customers to address their needs through problem-solving and design. She’s also written and spoken both locally and overseas on inclusion and allyship in the tech industry. Danya also happens to be a woman of colour leading an all-woman team of fellow designers, which is rare in tech.

“It’s a really important part of my job to support my team through their careers and to grow and develop our broader design team, as well as the wider tech industry,” said Danya, when discussing her passion for helping other women achieve their goals within the industry. “Having a leader who understands your experience is so valuable and allows me to coach my team in a really impactful way”.

Another way Danya is helping to change the industry is through her work with Camp SEEK, an initiative that invites girls and gender-diverse students aged 14-16 to learn about a range of tech careers. They’re now expanding into an alumni program for people who’ve attended in the past to stay connected with them and provide continued support as they’re looking to choose their subjects for later in school or further education.

Danya is also passionate about intersectionality, encouraging businesses to branch out beyond gender-first diversity initiatives that almost exclusively benefit white women.

“While it’s absolutely important to prioritise women in STEM, we cannot bring effective change if we only focus on one aspect of diversity,” said Danya. “The industry needs to understand that people who are in more than one under-represented group will have different experiences that cannot be addressed through one-dimensional, one-off initiatives.

Alyssa Carson

Be prepared to feel in awe. You’ve probably sussed Alyssa Carson‘s content across her IG and incredible TikTok account, but her influence spans the realms of social media. At the ripe old age of 19, she was selected as one of the seven ambassadors of Mars One – the mission set to establish a human colony on Mars in 2030. By these numbers, Alyssa will have established a whole-dang township on another planet by the age of 29. Incredible.

She’s currently studying astrobiology at the Florida Institute of Technology and has been attending space camps like Advanced PoSSUM (Project Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) to undertake g-force training, micro-gravity flight training and more since she was a young teenager. Alyssa has also given a range of TEDx talks globally centred around encouraging young girls to pursue STEM careers. She’s the ultimate definition of a slashie, whose talent, determination and hard work is a genuine inspiration no matter what industry you’re heading for.

Kirsten Banks 

If you’re tired of daily vlogs or dances, I highly recommend getting onto Kirstin Banks‘ TikTok account. She’s a proud Wiradjuri woman whose goal is to “educate others about the universe” through her immense knowledge and experience in Aboriginal astronomy and astrophysics. She received a Bachelor Of Science in 2018 and has since worked as an astronomy guide at the Sydney Observatory teaching Aboriginal astronomy workshops. Her heritage is at the forefront of her work, and she often elucidates the intricacies of Kamilaroi and Boorong astronomy through her teachings too.

“My favourite part about what I do is seeing someone’s face light up when the lightbulb flicks on, their eyes widen, and they have that “ah-ha” moment,” she states on her website (where you can suss the rest of her epic work).

If you’re looking to have your mind blown with facts that literally unpack the entire universe and how it works, follow her ASAP.

@astrokirstenSpace Hurricanes, coming to a moonlight cinema near you! ##spacetiktok ##astrotiktok ##sciencetiktok ##space ##hurricane ##science101 ##spaceweather♬ original sound – Kirsten Banks

Siobhan Reddy

Siobhan Reddy is a leading woman in the international game development space and is the current studio director at Media Molecule. The company is responsible for the hugely successful and innovative LittleBigPlanet game franchise and other titles like Tearaway and Dreams. She got her start in the industry at the age of 18, working as a production assistant at Perfect Entertainment, then at Criterion Games, before heading to Molecule.

She’s also won a stack of awards, including the Production Award at the first-ever Microsoft Women in Gaming Awards in 2009, and in 2014 she was named in Fortune’s 10 Powerful Women in Gaming. 

If you’re feeling ready to explore a career in STEM, suss out SEEK Career Advice for guidance on possible career paths in STEM and how to get your foot in the door.