As migrant women in STEM and women of colour from CALD backgrounds, we have observed the extreme difficulties and challenges in securing employment within the STEM sector in Australia even with PhDs in Engineering and Data Science.
When Morley moved to Australia from the UK with a Bachelors and Masters degree both in Engineering from top British schools on the skilled migration program, she felt she had her dreams come through but was disappointed to see that she couldn’t secure a job with employers citing lack of experience as an issue even though these companies clearly had entry level jobs. This motivated her to pursue a PhD to gain some hands-on experience within Australia but the bias did not stop. A top company turned down her employment offer to casual after discovering she was pregnant.
Morley is not alone as Ruwangi has experienced even more challenges being a woman of colour. Even with a PhD and full rights to work in Australia, in addition to being the founder of STEM Sisters, a leading women in STEM NFP organisation, securing a job has been fruitless with employers wanting an Australian citizen. However, those same employers would easily sponsor overseas candidates not based on qualification and experience alone but based on gender and race.
While businesses are pushing for diversity in hires, inclusion and retention of women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD remains problematic.
As qualified STEM professionals with experience in championing and advocating for women in STEM, we know our diversity is a gift and we have a lot to offer. Our solution model is a win-win for women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD as well as Australian STEM companies as the women can now apply their skills and talents while the companies in turn can achieve their diversity targets and increase their profit margin.
Why iSTEM Co.
According to the office of the Chief Scientist of Australia, “women make up only 29% of the STEM workforce with the lowest numbers seen in Construction at 12%”. The disadvantages experienced by this population are further amplified for women who are born overseas. In fact, the same statistics show that Australian women who were born overseas face four times higher unemployment rates in STEM. As a result, highly skilled women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD are often underemployed or unemployed.
These statistics are shocking as research also shows that the Australian economy would grow by $25 billion if more women are supported into STEM careers. There is also evidence that racially diverse executive teams provided an advantage of 35% higher EBIT and 33% more long-term value creation.
iSTEM Co. is a research, consulting and talent sourcing company dedicated to women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD. iSTEM Co. collaborates with STEM organisations to recruit, establish new bridging programs for career gaps or up-skill and create potential employment opportunities and networking. We do this by partnering with companies per project to conduct their short or medium-term STEM research projects, providing diversity and inclusion strategies via consulting as well as sourcing skilled STEM talents into Australian STEM organisations particularly in Engineering, Construction, Mining and ICT fields.
Most Australian STEM Organisations have diversity targets and have identified the low representation of WoC in STEM citing lack of applicants. This is largely attributed to the lack of knowledge on sourcing these talents.
iSTEM Co. has access to a community of women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD across different STEM backgrounds and ethnicities. In addition, we have the expertise and lived experience to clearly identify these talents adding value to our partnered organisations.
Companies are pushing for diversity but do not have the space to manage inclusion. At iSTEM Consulting, we want to recruit women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD into safe workplaces, where they belong, are retained and thrive.
Our motto is simple: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Retention (DEIR).
Our mission comes from our personal stories and challenges in the job market as women of colour ourselves. Even though we have phDs in Engineering and Data Science, we have faced several different biases including migration, name, accent, parenthood etc. We know we are not alone. This is our reason for starting iSTEM Consulting Pty Ltd.
At iSTEM, our mission is to create employment opportunities for women in STEM including women of colour as well as women from CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) into STEM organisations beginning with Australia.
Meet our team
Dr. Fernando is the founder of STEM Sisters, with a strong history of advocating for diversity and inclusion for women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD in STEM
Dr. Fernando (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruwangifernando/) has a strong history of advocating for diversity and inclusion for STEM women of colour (WoC). She is the founder of STEM Sisters, a not-for-profit that empowers WoC across Australia. She was recognized for her efforts and awarded a STEM Women Changemaker by the Australian Academy of Science. Also, she received the Business award category for the TechDiversity Awards. She holds a PhD in Data Science, a master's in Human Resource Management and Strategic IT management, and a bachelor's in IT. She was awarded a CSIRO Data 61 full scholarship with a top-up during her PhD at Victoria University. She also completed an APR Internship with the Victorian Department of Transport. She has been named a finalist for the 2022 Victoria University Alumni awards under the Professional Achievement category.
Dr. Muse is a STEM leader and operates as a board director for women in STEMM Australia, WISA
Dr. Muse (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-morley-muse-a27010160/) is a STEM leader and operates as a board director for women in STEMM Australia, WISA (https://womeninscienceaust.org/board/). She is a former ambassador for CSIRO's Innovation Catalyst Global championing the 'Find Her' tool which connects female STEM academics to industry partners. Muse is also on the advisory panel for Elevate Women in STEM Program with The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) which was awarded $41.2 million to manage the delivery of up to 500 university scholarships. Dr Muse is the winner of the 2022 Women's Agenda Awards for the Emerging Leader in the STEM category. She has also been named a finalist for the Victoria University Alumni Awards under the Rising Star category. Dr Muse holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering, MSc in Sustainable Power Technology and a bachelor's in Chemical/Environmental Engineering.
If you want diversity, then create the space for inclusion
iSTEM Co. is a research, consulting and talent sourcing company aimed to promote and enable employment of women in STEM including women of colour and women from CALD into Australian STEM organisations.