To celebrate National Science Week, two postdoctoral plant biologists from the ANU, Dr Anne-Sophie Dielen and Dr Britta Förster, have created The League of Remarkable Women in Australian Science exhibition, currently on display at the CSIRO Discovery Centre.

The exhibition, which features the portraits and stories of 32 inspiring female scientists from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, aims to provide younger women with positive role models from their area of study.

The project began as a website, through which Dr. Dielen attempted to show her students the achievements of women from STEM fields in order to increase their self-confidence.

“Most of the time we talk about numbers when it comes to women in science, and the numbers are not good,” said Dr. Dielen.

Currently, women make up more than half of the science PhD students in Australia, however, this number drops to just 17% when looking at senior academics at universities and research institutes. These statistics result from issues such as maternity leave and an unconscious gender bias, which often hinder a woman’s advancement in the scientific community.

For Dr. Dielen, the personal stories of overcoming adversity in science fields make “a massive difference. If…I can read a story and realise that this person has been through the issue I’m facing, I know how that it finally worked for them, I know that there is hope.”

For all the women considering science as a career “If you love it, just do it,” said Dr Förster.

The exhibition was also complemented by the Women in Science Panel held at the CSIRO Discovery Centre on Wednesday the 19th of August. The event raised issues faced by women, as well as their roles in the fields in science, with the audience hearing from 5 panellists, as well as the chairs of the event, It was chaired by Brian Schmidt, Physics Nobel Laureate and future Vice-Chancellor of the ANU and the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science.

ANU PhB Science student, Katie Ward, said she “heard some really great things from everyone… and that the resounding feeling that we really need to do something is great.”

The exhibition runs until the 31st of August on weekdays at the CSIRO Discovery Gallery Room, with support from The National Museum of Australia, The ANU Gender Institute, National Science Week Inspiring Australia Program, The ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis and the CSIRO.

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