This research seeks to better support young women to engage in STEM fields, particularly computer science. The project has emerged from conversations with several young female students at Monash who are interested in pursuing technology careers but feel they have limited experiences or opportunities to understand how and what a woman might offer to the industry. This is an issue highlighted by the federal government who have identified that “A lack of diverse female role models in STEM...further decreases girls’ and women’s likelihood of persisting in STEM education and considering STEM as a career option.”(Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources, 2021).
While a number of studies have explored the impact of computing programs on girls (Zagami et al., 2015, Corneliussen & Prøitz, 2016, Spieler et al., 2020), this study instead focuses on young adult women who are undertaking tertiary studies and, having pursued higher education, may be more likely to be making career decisions at this point in their lives.
The aim of the research is to understand if, faced with a lack of female role models, the development of peer role models can remove the, “... significant hurdle for gender equity in [the] field” that young women face. (Vila-Concejo et al., 2018, p. 1).
The research project will connect young women, through workshops, online events and virtual shared spaces. These opportunities will be evaluated to understand whether peer experiences and peer role models can support increased female engagement in the technology industry.
What will you be when you grow up?
Exploring the impact of peer role-modelling on young women’s openness to careers in tech industries.