The Strong W(o)men in Future Technologies (SWIFT) Program
Did you know that women are currently under-represented within the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM)?
To change this, Australia needs to encourage girls to have the confidence to grow into women who can influence and shape new technologies.
Achievement and retention of women in artificial intelligence and machine learning is directly related to engagement and confidence, as well firing imaginations early and providing relevant and exciting opportunities to develop and practice skills from a very young age.
Studies show that up until the age of 8, girls and boys demonstrate reasonably equal levels of confidence. For girls, this confidence then plummets and by the age of 14 self-confidence levels can fall by 30 percent.
The good news is that confidence can be encouraged and, with a bit of support and the right tools, created.
At the AIML, we are aware of the importance of nurturing confidence and starting this journey early on. It is vital that girls are provided with the opportunity to learn and use skills that will serve them over a life-time: self-advocacy, negotiation, authenticity, compromise, collaboration, understanding and overcoming unconscious bias, personal responsibility and conflict as an opportunity for change.
Coming in 2020, the SWIFT Program will work with girls aged 8 to 13 in schools to develop these skills, as well as engaging with, and supporting, primary influencers – parents/caregivers, teachers, and peers - to create sustainable impact.
With SWIFT, we hope to give girls the tools to embrace risk and master confidence for the long-term.
To join our mailing list and to keep up to date with everything SWIFT, or to ask a question, please click here.
First SWIFT Workshops
On Friday the 20th of September we held the first two SWIFT Program Student Workshops with our competition winners, and the first parent/caregiver and teacher/educator focus groups with representation across both regional and metropolitan South Australia. Our aim for the first cohort was to uncover the current understanding of artificial intelligence and machine learning study and career pathways, and the barriers holding young women and gender-diverse persons back from taking up these options. We also worked with all groups on understanding unconscious and implicit bias, the imperative for these students to contribute to current and future technologies, and the personal skills required to be successful.
We now plan to develop the workshops for pilot towards the end of 2019, and launch properly in early 2020.
An enormous thank you to the incredible students, parents/caregivers and teachers/educators, and also to our wonderful sponsors SAHMRI, Lockheed Martin Australia, Capgemini, SA Department for Education and AiLab.
SWIFT Program Director and Facilitators
Ali Anderson is the Manager of Outreach Programs for the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) at the University of Adelaide. She has worked extensively in Educational Outreach, Project and Event Management, and Staff Leadership roles with a liberal dose of Organisational Development and Customer Service Management.
As the mother of 4 daughters and a passionate advocate for women and non-binary persons in non-traditional roles, she is driven and inspired every day by developing, implementing and supporting student and industry programs to provide a greater understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence, in addition to the personal skills required to successfully implement these learnings. These include self-advocacy, negotiation, authenticity, compromise, collaboration, overcoming unconscious bias, and how young people can be strong and ethical contributors to the tech sector, irrespective of career choice.
Teresa Janowski has worked in a variety of Tech companies including Telstra, Motorola, BAE Systems and SAAB Technologies in a career spanning over 25 years. In 2013, Teresa joined STEM Nation and transformed the organisation by creating the award-winning mentoring programs: STEM Sista and STEM Mista. These programs give students the chance to solve real world problems, learn life skills, and build the resilience required to succeed both in their STEM careers and into the future.
In 2018, Teresa established STEM Fasttrack and with her team has growing the program offering across Australia and is launching the first STEM Sista program in Europe.
Catherine White is a PhD student in the School of Education looking into the factors that affect the participation of girls in STEM subjects. She originally graduated with an honours degree in evolutionary genetics, however she realised that her passion was teaching and a few years later obtained her teaching degree. She has worked as a middle and high school science and mathematics teacher for the last 12 years, encouraging as many girls to study STEM subjects as she could. When she isn’t teaching or studying she can be found playing with her 3 children or sewing up a storm.
Champions of SWIFT
Professor Caroline McMillen is an Australian medical and health academic and the incumbent Chief Scientist of South Australia. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and a Bragg Member of the Royal Institution, Australia. She is a Director of Compass Housing Services Co Ltd, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the Australian Science Media Centre and a member of the Council of the University of South Australia.
Prior to this role, Professor McMillen was the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Newcastle for 7 years.
Professor McMillen has served on industry boards such as the Australia Automotive Industry Innovation Council, CRC for Advanced Automotive Technology and the CRC for Rail Innovation as well as the South Australian Premier’s Climate Change Council and the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council. She has also served on the Boards of the Australian Business Higher Education Round Table, Universities Australia and the Universities Admissions Centre.
Katrina Elliott is the Project Officer Science R - 12 / STEM in the Strategic Design Directorate in South Australia’s Department for Education, Learning Improvement Division. She is currently co-leading a science elaborations project to contextualise South Australian Aboriginal perspectives in collaboration with ACARA, SA Museum, Aboriginal elders and their communities. Over the past 3 years Katrina led research with 39 schools to design, trial and evaluate innovative and evidence informed approaches to improve learner engagement, disposition and achievement in Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics.
Katrina is a writer and presenter on STEM and science education to support teachers with content and pedagogical knowledge to improve their practice. She has published a number of peer reviewed papers on science education, technologies in science education, curriculum integration, and neuroscience in learning. Her other research interests include Questioning in teacher praxis, Aboriginal learners in STEM, and Critical and Creative thinking in STEM.
Hannah Brown is an Adelaide born and educated, internationally trained, researcher-turned-communicator who leads Storytelling, Communication and Development at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). Having trained and worked as an academic, she now sits at the interface between science and the public, helping to create the translational transaction through storytelling. She believes that creating clear and consistent narrative, engaging broadly with consumers, authenticity, integrity and humour are the keys to effective communication.
Dr. John Flackett is a speaker, educator, advisor and business founder. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is John’s passion, and has been an integral part of his career via teaching, research, industry and education. A leader in his field, John has 20+ years of AI experience and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (machine learning and natural language processing). Previously a senior academic teaching Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering and Computer Studies at a UK university, John has also worked in a wide range of industries and sectors (including banking, government and engineering).
Since migrating to Australia from the UK, John has co-founded two businesses; the smart web company koolth and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (ailab.com.au). AiLab assists industry, academia, government and community across the globe with learning and navigating AI through education programs, research, resources, policy and events.
A renown international speaker, John runs workshops and presents at events around the world speaking about AI, future jobs and emerging technology. As an AI advisor, John frequently contributes to media interviews, radio discussions, publications and roundtables. His academic and business career was featured in the 2019 Million Plus 'Think Modern' campaign launched at the Palace of Westminster (UK).
John’s fortunate to have picked up awards throughout his career, including from the British Computer Society (BCS) and GovHack. He is also co-founder of the Adelaide Artificial Intelligence meetup series, which is the largest AI networking community in South Australia. Passionate about AI and his craft, John is dedicated to mentoring, collaborating, educating and building AI awareness.
Emma Berry is the Co-founder/Creative Director of the smart web company koolth and the Co-founder/Principal of Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (ailab.com.au). An accomplished designer, Emma creates beautiful, accessible and interactive digital user experiences, as well as applying her creative skills to traditional print media. As AiLab's education and program director, Emma is also responsible for the co-development and management of AiLab's world-class education programs and events across the globe.
Before migrating to Australia from the UK, Emma was the manager of a design, digital communications and computing team at a UK University. Throughout her time in the education sector, as well as leading teams, Emma developed core publications and supervised department events. Highly skilled in transforming and automating business processes, Emma also helped manage the transition, integration and implementation of the University-wide, central software system.
Passionate about advancing women in technology, Emma gives her time freely to community initiatives and events that encourage diversity - including being the co-founder and organiser of Adelaide Artificial Intelligence meetup series, which is the largest AI networking group in South Australia. Emma is also a board advisor and provides mentoring for individuals and businesses in the technology community.
SWIFT Competition – competition now closed.
SWIFT Competition – competition now closed.
As part of the development of the SWIFT program, we are running a competition open to South Australian State School students in Years 5 – 8 in 2019 that identify as female or non-binary.
Entrants need to explain why they think it is important for young w(o)men to participate in a technological future, and what sort of attitudes and skills they think will be needed for that future. Their entry can take the shape of a short written piece (300 words or less), a video (2 minutes or less), a piece of artwork – or any way in which they feel most confident.
Further details and competition guidelines are below. Final entries can be submitted here.
Closing date for entries: 27 August 2019.
Thanks to our SWIFT sponsors.