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. Ruwangi Fernando
Dr. Ruwangi Fernando, renowned in the IT and AI sectors with a strong academic, industry and consulting background, holds a Ph.D. from Victoria University and Data61, CSIRO. Her notable achievements include receiving the ‘Changemaker’ award from the Australian Academy of Science in 2020 and the ‘Game Changer’ accolade from the Asia Society Australia in 2022. She also serves as the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the Australian Computer Society Victoria, where she actively promotes gender equality in STEM.
Dr. Morley Muse
Dr. Morley Muse, Co-founder of iSTEM Co. and DEIR, is a distinguished Chemical, Environmental, and Renewable Energy Engineer. Recognised as the Emerging Leader in STEM at the 2022 Women’s Agenda awards, she champions diversity in STEM as a board director for Women in STEMM Australia. With expertise spanning waste-to-energy, renewable hydrogen, and biofuels, Dr. Muse holds key advisory roles, including past ambassadorship for CSIRO’s Innovation Catalyst Global and a position on the Executive Committee with Science, Technology Australia (STA).
In addition to her notable roles, Dr. Muse is a member of the Energy Reference Group with Jemena Energy, providing expert advice on the energy transition, tariffs, and electricity price reset for Jemena Energy and its customers. As a mentor for senior women in STEM and a RISE Expert panel member, she contributes significantly to fostering inclusivity. Dr. Muse’s accolades include being a 2023 Recalibrate Gender Equity Awards finalist, and her latest venture, DEIR, a recruit-tech platform, earned the Lift Women Social Impact Award, underscoring her commitment to advancing women in STEM.
Senior Manager Operations and Projects
Filomena Lallo is a seasoned Project and Technology professional, bringing over 15 years of expertise in delivering successful and impactful projects. With a proven track record in managing large and complex technology changes, Filomena has held pivotal roles such as Delivery Manager, Senior Project Manager, and Senior PMO Analyst across diverse industries including Banking and Finance, Utilities, Telco, Superannuation, Data and Analytics, Gaming, and Transport.
Her market experience encompasses notable clients like National Australia Bank, Energy Australia, AMP, Telstra Super, Toll Holdings, ANZ, Telstra, and TABCORP. Filomena excels in all stages of change management, end-to-end delivery, and application development life cycles. Acknowledged for her strong Stakeholder Management and Engagement Skills, she has received multiple recognition awards at National Australia Bank. With a background in a mature Agile/Lean environment, Filomena is well-versed in SCRUM/Iteration management and possesses a deep understanding of Agile software development methodologies. Her articulate communication, executive coaching training, and ability to establish lasting relationships make her a valuable asset to any project team.
Conghela Yeerken is a distinguished professional with a background in Media Communication, specialising in leveraging media strategies to drive impactful narratives.
Prior to joining iStemCo, Conghela dedicated a year to STEM Sisters, where they immersed themselves in diverse media tasks. Her proficiency in editing and producing compelling video content for social media platforms, along with the design of engaging website pages, exemplifies her creative prowess. Conghela also excelled in took charge of online promotion efforts, crafting visually striking posters and executing successful social media and email campaigns.
With an in-depth understanding gained through more than a year of collaboration with STEM Sisters, Conghela has accumulated valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities within the realm of supporting women in STEM. This knowledge, coupled with her rich background, is an invaluable asset that they bring to the iStemCo team.
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.