Future You – inspiring future STEM careers
Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Prof. Lisa Harvey-Smith, and her team, have launched the Future You initiative - a program and website for kids aged 8-12 to inspire and open the imagination to a world of future STEM careers.
“Did you know that girls as young as six have already decided that STEM subjects were not for them due to the stereotypes they have been exposed to?”
This was the opening line from The Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador Prof. Lisa Harvey-Smith when she launched the Future You pilot program back in 2020. The pilot reached an audience of 3.1 million in its quest to open the idea of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
Now Future You is in the next phase of its mission - to challenge gender stereotypes and promote inclusive and engaging STEM education for everyone.
With the launch of the new site this month, the Future You initiative uses imaginative storytelling and creative, engaging resources, lesson plans, and activities to encourage kids aged 8 – 12 years to explore STEM careers.
Led by Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, the first appointed Women in STEM Ambassador aims to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM.
“Future You aims to challenge stereotypes and help children, their parents and teachers to understand that STEM is for everyone.
“STEM skills are required in almost every sector of work, from caring occupations to retail and trades – whether you are running your own business or creating solutions to the global problems of our time.
“STEM needs creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and a curiosity for the world around us – and we need everyone to be involved to get the best solutions,” said Lisa.
The STEM Equity Monitor is a national data resource on girls and women in STEM, and the 2022 report shows there is still much that needs to be done to meet future labour market needs and to encourage the participation of girls and women in STEM-based careers.
Through films, short stories, posters, downloadable activities, and competitions, the Future You program aims to provide inspirational role models for children, as well as practical advice on potential career paths.
Imagining the future
'Imagining the future' is a STEM fiction program based around the intertwined stories from five Australian authors giving representation to a diverse audience as the interstellar journey unfolds.
“It’s crucial for us that Future You represents the many different types of people that make up modern Australia. Kids are smart and would expect nothing less!,” said Prof. Harvey-Smith.
“Part of that focus on diversity is borne out of who we feature in our films, stories, and drama casts – with our first tranche of content including First Nations excellence, a rainbow family blasting into space, and highlighting vocational pathways into STEM careers. We will continue that theme with all our subsequent content so that everyone can imagine their own ‘Future You’.”
Australian writer, Lili Wilkinson launches the series with the heart-stopping thriller ‘Far Out!’. Read by Brenna Harding, it features a soundtrack by Freya Berkhout who also performs the pop song Galaxy Vibes (Far Out!).
Other Australian authors Alison Evans, Rebecca Lim, Gary Lonesborough, and Melissa Keil will follow with their works of fiction, to be released in 2023. Each story is free to download in either written form or as a dramatised podcast complete with young Australian actors, sound design, and soundtracks.
Each story will have posters, activities, and curriculum-aligned teaching resources for teachers.
The first season of Pathfinders showcases four short films featuring extraordinary women working in aerospace, conservation, machine maintenance, and augmented reality storytelling.
Along with the films are teaching resources, activities, and career advice packs to help teachers, schools and families to discuss and explore STEM career pathways.
So what happens when the kids move onto high school?
“The Girls in STEM Toolkit is one such program for high-school students. It takes a parallel approach to attract students to STEM, by providing role models, information for teachers and parents about STEM careers. But…. they don’t have a song about a dancing robot frog like we do!” said Prof. Harvey-Smith.
Future You is funded through the $1.5 million Women in STEM National Awareness Raising Initiative, as part of the Australian Government’s Advancing Women in STEM strategy.
Find out more about the Future You program.