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A short bio about you and how you got where you are as a woman in STEM
I grew up watching women in STEM on TV, like Dax on Star Trek and Scully on The X-Files. This taught me that women can do any job that men traditionally do. The subject I was best at and enjoyed the most in high school was IT. My parents both worked in IT so this felt like a logical choice for me. So I studied Software Engineering at the University of Canberra, and was the only girl in my degree. I joined the National Space Society of Australia by volunteering at their annual conferences. There I met many interesting people including other young women studying STEM. I ended up coming top of my class with first class honours. I joined a large IT company, as a graduate, which had supportive women at every level of the project. After I’d gained a few years’ experience I branched out on my own as a contractor. This allowed me to move around between different projects to gain more industry experience and widen my network of contacts. I then took a couple of years off for maternity leave. Because my degree accredited me as an Engineer I was eligible to join Airbus Helicopters as a Software Tester, where I now work part time, in Brisbane Australia.
Any word of advice you would like to share with a reader who is interested in pursuing your career path?
Getting high marks in school is helpful but there are other ways to begin a successful career. Apply for the courses you want to do, even if you think you won’t be accepted, because you never know.
Advise for young professionals in STEM
Networking is very valuable. Attend events to practice talking to different sorts of people. Volunteering at conferences throughout university gave me varied experiences to talk about during graduate interviews.
Prepare as much as possible for interviews. For instance read the company’s website and research terms in the job description that you’re not familiar with. Have a question ready for the end of the interview, even if you just ask the interviewer if they like working there. Wear a bright colour to help people remember you.