COFFS Harbour High School supporting girls in STEM

Coffs Harbour High School is bucking the trend of girls being underrepresented in STEM pathways by nurturing career readiness for students such as Simeran Getahun.


COFFS Harbour High School (CHHS) and the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews are actively encouraging girls into Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) career pathways.

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Dionne Court, Careers Adviser, at Coffs Harbour High School, told News of The Area about the school’s initiative to highlight careers in STEM especially for girls by inviting graduates back who are working in STEM.

Those students have included Isabelle Capell-Hattam, currently in her third year of a PhD in Biochemistry at UNSW and Zoe Schmidt, who completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Wollongong.

Ms Court said, “Isabella has done a lot of stuff on nanotechnology and is on her way to getting a PHD.

“Currently she is doing vaccine tracking in relation to COVID 19 and has been working with the government.”

Another Coffs Harbour High School student well on her way to a career in STEM is Simeran Getahun.

Simeran’s Year 12 subjects include Mathematics Advanced, Physics, Chemistry and a new language, Spanish Beginners.

Her goal is to study a Bachelor of Education in Mathematics / Science at University of Sydney and share her passion for science, maths and all things physics, so that other young girls can share her interests.

The STEM career pathways at CHHS has preceded a new government initiative recently launched to inspire girls to see their future selves in a range of jobs using science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Karen Andrews said the Future You initiative will help raise awareness of the exciting career possibilities in STEM for the next generation.

“We know that a lack of role models and understanding of STEM careers reduces girls’ interest and confidence in STEM subjects as early as Year 4 – but we want to change that,” Minister Andrews said.

“Future You is all about increasing girls’ participation in STEM subjects and opening their eyes to a career which uses these skills.

“Empowering girls to see a future for themselves in a STEM career is a crucial part of our efforts to ensure everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the jobs of the future, which is not only good for the girls and women themselves, but also for our economy.”

The Future You initiative is led by the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.

“STEM subjects are not just for scientists and engineers – they are for everyone.

“Future You shows young people just how exciting, vibrant and rewarding a STEM skilled career can be,” Professor Harvey-Smith said.

The Future You online platform is aimed at children aged 8 to 12, as well as their parents and carers, and features 12 diverse and relatable characters, including a builder, miner, game designer, farmer, nurse, ecologist and a Moon to Mars Mission Director.

The campaign includes a website with video animations, skill-based games and information about STEM and can be found here


By Sandra MOON

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