The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Meet the ‘Kim Kardashian­s’ of Australia’s scientific world

- JESSICA McSWEENEY

SOCIAL media influencer­s like Kim Kardashian are household names but some of Australia’s top female physicists are frustrated most girls have no idea Australia has a female Nobel prize winner.

Scientists at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisati­on (ANSTO) said while there’s nothing wrong with following influencer­s, there needs to be more recognitio­n for women in science.

“When a sports figure wins a cup it becomes big news, or when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West get a divorce … when I think of the appointmen­t of Cathy Foley as chief scientist that should be a part of that news,” ANSTO’s human health research leader Mitra SafeviNaei­ni said.

“The achievemen­t of women in science and technology should be something that we celebrate.”

Participat­ion rates for students in advanced maths and science are dangerousl­y low — girls made up just 23 per cent of the HSC physics cohort last year and only 32 per cent of girls enrolled in advanced or extension mathematic­s, compared to 45 per cent of boys.

In 2016 just 29 per cent of those going to university to study physics were women.

ANSTO’s Group Executive Nuclear Precinct Pamela NaidooAmeg­lio said she wished more teenage girls would celebrate scientists as role models.

“There are Instagram influencer­s with millions of followers, but not many teenagers would recognise the name of Australian Nobel prize recipient Professor Elizabeth Blackburn,” Ms Naidoo-Ameglio said.

“I’m not saying there’s not a skill to learning dance routines, but I just wish the woman who, for example, won a Nobel prize following DNA breakthrou­ghs that changed the way we treat cancer, also had a bit more recognitio­n among young women.”

 ??  ?? Mitra Safavi-Naeni and Ceri Brenner.
Mitra Safavi-Naeni and Ceri Brenner.

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