STEM Sisters’’ is a non-profit organisation focused on supporting women of colour in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to achieve professional liberation, economic empowerment and the freedom to pursue professional goals, without externally imposed limitations.
Founded by Dr Ruwangi Fernando, STEM Sisters was initiated in 2017, to attract and celebrate women in STEM at Victoria University.Soon, Dr Fernando identified that although there were several Australian organisations supporting women in STEM, there was a gap in Australian programs focussed on the unique intersectional challenges and barriers for ‘women of colour’ in STEM. These challenges are visible in the STEM workforce; unemployment of overseas-born, university-qualified STEM women is 14.1%, compared with just 3.3% for Australian-born, university-qualified STEM women, according to the Australian STEM Workforce Report released in 2020 by the office of the chief scientist of Australia.
STEM Sisters became the first Australian organisation to provide targeted support to address this inequity.
STEM Sisters now has over 100 volunteers who, under the leadership of Dr Fernando and guidance of an independent Advisory panel, coordinate and run nine structured programs. Each of these programs focuses on a specific barrier or challenge faced by women of colour in STEM, and seeks to address it.
Alongside its formal initiatives, STEM Sisters has also built a network of over 700 women of colour in STEM through a dedicated private LinkedIn group which promotes and shares professional opportunities and reinforces a supportive community of women with shared lived experiences in their STEM careers.
Visit their page here.