Our Mission is to achieve professional liberation, the freedom to pursue one’s professional goals, to the extent of one’s own aptitude without externally imposed limitations, for all women, particularly those from historically underrepresented populations. Using cultural, structural and disciplinary sources of authority to produce new knowledge.
About STEM Sisters
Founded by Ruwangi, STEM Sisters was first initiated at Victoria University in 2017, to attract and celebrate women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) at Victoria University. With the support of Victoria University and SSAF funding. STEM Sisters was able to organise many events to network female and male students and academics to support female STEM students to achieve career goals at Victoria University.
STEM workforce plays an increasingly important role in the Australian economy as they are critical to the country’s innovation and responsible for many of the cutting-edge ideas and technologies that create new jobs and raise the living standards of all Australians. It’s evident that Australia needs more diverse STEM population as diversity hugely benefits the technological innovation at large. Currently, only 39.7 per cent of the STEM workforce is female and even lesser for culturally diverse women. But its important to know that 35 per cent of people with STEM qualifications living in Australia is born elsewhere. Therefore, we need, include and sustain more STEM women of colour in Australian STEM workforce by promoting a career in STEM is attractive and attainable as any other.
There are many Australian STEM organisations which support women in STEM, but no specific organisation in Australia supports STEM women of colour. In particular , no organization supports migrated STEM women or international female students who are studying STEM related courses in Australia and STEM Sisters was initiated to bridge this gap.
Ruwangi Fernando, Founder
Sri Lankan-born PhD student Ruwangi studies at Victoria University’s Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities and as a sessional lecturer. She has received accolades for her research, which focuses on how computer algorithms can predict and plan for traffic disruptions caused by significant events, such as football games or concerts. Before joining Victoria University, she completed the Bachelor of IT degree from the University of Colombo and the Master’s degree in Information Technology from Wolverhampton. She was the top student of her batch and was awarded for her Academic Excellence.
Ruwangi believes in giving back and set up STEM Sisters in 2017 to retain, support and celebrate female international students and migrants (women of colour) in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) fields. She has received encouragement and recognition as a STEM Women Changemakers of 2020 by the Australian Academy of Science for using knowledge, experience, and networks to share their ideas and solutions for gender equity in Australian STEM. Ruwangi was named a finalist in the 2019 EduGrowth’s business plan competition for STEM Sisters. Recently she nominated and shortlisted by Pro bono Australia for the #2021Impact25 Awards, which recognise innovators and collaborators making a positive impact in the social sector.
Ruwangi has also appeared as a panellist for a range of events promoting women and diversity in STEM, including a ‘Learning on the Edge’ event, International Women’s Day celebrations at Victoria University, Future Female Conference organised by study Melbourne, Future Founders Festival 2020 organised by State Library Victoria, Catalysing Gender Equity 2020 (a conference organised by The Australian Academy of Science, in collaboration with Science in Australia Gender Equity) to name few.
Our advisory panel consists of well-recognised STEM DIVERSITY and Inclusion experts who guide our progress. Specifically, the Advisory Panel provide advice and guidance to the STEM Sisters project team by:
Providing referrals to knowledge experts and sources of information where these might prove beneficial,
Providing feedback on, as requested, select content to ensure accuracy of the information presented to the public, and;
STEM Sisters Volunteers
Volunteers enrich our culture, strengthen our relationships and help to make our work more effective by contributing their time, skills, energy and enthusiasm.
Volunteers contribute to all initiatives of STEM Sisters. They help us to raise awareness, campaign for change, provide administrative support, assist in events and offer their skills, time and experience to help us carry out our work.
Acknowledgment of Country
STEM Sisters, recognises and respects the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Boonwurrung, Wadawurrung and Wurundjeri of the Kulin who are the traditional owners of land in Victoria.