SYDNEY, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Australia recognised the vital importance of diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) on Tuesday, celebrating the United Nations (UN) International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
While many countries have come far in encouraging women and girls into STEM fields, according to the UN, still just 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women, and studies suggest that they are paid less, publish less, and are promoted less than their male counterparts.
To help address the issue, Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) hosted a panel conversation and activities for just under 20 schools, to discuss the role of women in science and encourage young girls to consider the path for themselves.
Executive Director of the Institute for Future Environments at QUT, Professor Kerrie Wilson who led the event, told Xinhua that introducing the students to emerging female scientists gave them a living role model to aspire too.
"These sort of events are an important way of breaking down stereotypes both for the students and also for their teachers and helping young women identify role models, so that they can actually imagine being these types of people," Wilson said.
"It's the old saying of, you can't be what you can't see."
Australia has a relatively low participation rate in STEM subjects at school compared with many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Wilson, but she said that the country is on its way to understanding and removing the barriers that are still in place for young women.
In the future, global endeavours will increasingly involve STEM skills and most industries will require STEM expertise, Wilson said, which is one pragmatic reason "why we need to get girls into STEM."