Dr Paola Magni has joined a high-profile panel in a documentary style video designed to reinforce the importance of diversity in STEMM studies.Murdoch University’s Paola A. Magni, Ph.D., has joined a high-profile panel of Science Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM) professionals from all around Australia in a documentary style video designed to reinforce the importance of diversity in STEMM studies. The video was launched this week via multiple platforms including the Science Channel and YouTube.
Created by the Australian Science Communicators NSW branch, along with the support of Australia’s Science Channel – RiAus, Franklin Women, Inspiring Australia and Science & Technology Australia, the video featured a panel chaired by Dr Astha Singh, a science communicator specialising in the digital space to strategically market STEMM.
The panel’s discussion centred on the fact that the current Australian STEMM workforce doesn’t represent the true diversity of the country’s population.
“In order to accurately reflect the true nature of Australia’s demographic population, more women and students from multicultural backgrounds should be encouraged to engage in these disciplines,” said Dr. Magni.“Unless we make changes and encourage more diversity among our science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine students it means we are not fully supporting our potential future industry leaders."
A report released by Australia’s Chief Scientist in March 2016 showed that thirty-five per cent of people with STEMM qualifications living in Australia were born elsewhere, but that there were differences across the different STEMM disciplines. In 2011, 84 per cent of people with a STEMM qualification were male.
Dr Magni said in the early days of her career, as an expert in forensics, she was often over compensating in her work in order to be taken seriously.
“Sometimes at the crime scene, I was the youngest person in an environment of just men. So it was pretty difficult for the older men to believe in my work. I found that I was working harder to convince my peers that I was just as qualified to be on the team.”
As a native of Turin Italy, Dr Magni also faced the same challenges which have to be overcome by many of our international students, including adjusting to a new environment, new people, a new language and new culture.
“It’s important to encourage future professionals in STEMM careers from all walks of life. Engaging people from diverse cultural backgrounds offers a myriad of background experience and therefore thought processes and problem-solving skills, which brings a new dimension to a team and a results in a rich knowledge base.
“As we move into the future, it’s up to all of us who hold minority roles in STEMM disciplines to encourage women and those from culturally diverse backgrounds to build a workforce which reflects our population’s diversity. I am proud to be considered a role model for other young women, and will take every opportunity to champion the message about diversity,” she added.