Fatimah Almathami’s presentation from the Finding Ada Conference 2020.
This talk covers the causes of under-representation of women in STEM. The need to identify the causes deeply to find holistic solutions. And then how to increase women participation in work through a successful pathway of recruitment strategies.
PhD Candidate in ITEE School at University of Queensland. Academic Tutor at Griffith University. Bachelor and Master Graduate from UQ majoring in Information Technology, Computer Science and International Relations. Interested in Technology, Gender Studies and Gender equity in STEM, Women Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion in IT/CS, Human-Computer Interaction, International Relations and Politics, Leadership, women leaders, and policy/regulations analyst.
Fatimah’s Q&A was text only, and below is a lightly edited and anonymised transcript.
Question: Fatimah, how do we encourage more women in to STEM?
Fatimah Almathami: My theory is to start from early ages. We engage more kids in learning STEM. And a broader concept is changing toys and cloths of kids that are biased, so more STEM toys are boys where girls are more about home and dolls.
Question: This is a bit of a sideways question, sorry, but I noticed in the chat you mentioned that you found public speaking difficult – but here you did it anyway (and it was really great). I have found that women are not heard even when they have really insightful things to say, while all too often men speak up when they have nothing new to add. How can we support each other in speaking up?
Fatimah Almathami: Yes, I still fear speaking in public but I got lots of support from my female supervisor who encourages me to support my ideas and speak it out.
Question: I find it interesting that people are more willing to encourage girls to play with chemistry sets than to encourage boys to play with dolls, though. What can we do to change that?
Fatimah Almathami: We start with our own, families we know and then maybe school around us. We start small but make big changes.
Question: I really liked your thoughts on recruitment. What can people to do improve their recruitment strategies?
Fatimah Almathami: We need to be honest with recruitment. Are we aiming to recruit the right candidate? If yes we should start from attracting young generations with the images we post. At the recruitment level we need to be unbiased with choosing who can really fulfil the position despite their gender.