The Smart Women – Smart State Strategy: A Policy on Women’s Participation in Science, Engineering and Technology in Queensland, Australia

The Smart Women – Smart State Strategy: A Policy on Women’s Participation in Science, Engineering and Technology in Queensland, Australia

Alexandra Winter (Queensland State Government, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-657-5.ch001

Abstract

Despite growing demand for skilled workers, women remain under-represented in science, engineering and technology industries. Limited opportunities for women not only impacts upon individual women’s access to the workforce and economic security, but also means that the State does not have the appropriate skills for future growth. In Australia, the Queensland State Government developed and implemented a strategy to promote science, engineering and technology to women and girls, and to retain women in these fields of education and work. The strategy involved a range of methods, including policy and program delivery, to engage women and girls at different points of their lives. This chapter gives an overview of the Smart Women – Smart State Strategy and the initiatives delivered as part of the strategy, and finishes by highlighting the need for ongoing strategies to effect social and attitudinal change. This overview highlights the importance of policy development and delivery that is gender sensitive, as well as the broader social and economic benefits of women’s equitable participation in science, engineering and technology.
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Background

The Smart State Strategy (2005 – 2015), launched by the then Premier, the Honourable Peter Beattie, promoted the development of a knowledge economy for Queensland, a State that has historically been focussed on primary industries and resources. The Smart State Strategy envisioned a State in which economic growth and prosperity are driven by knowledge, creativity and innovation, particularly in biotechnology, information technology, nano-technology and communication technology. The Strategy recognised that in order to meet the Smart State objectives there was a need to expand the SET workforce. Because of the under-representation of women in SET, increasing the participation of women and girls in SET education and employment was one important way to boost the State’s SET workforce while also providing new opportunities for women to benefit from entering into SET study and employment.

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