c. 2024 pitt & sherry

Building pathways to successful STEM careers for young women

You can’t be what you can’t see. In Australia, only 37% of women enrol in STEM degrees and only 15% hold STEM-qualified jobs. We are missing out on diverse talents and women are missing out on high-paying STEM careers. At pitt&sherry we decided to do something about it.

Earlier this month, pitt&sherry hosted our IGNITE School Program for Young Women in STEM. Abbey, one of our participants reflected “It was lovely seeing so many successful women who work in STEM careers… I could not recommend this program more if you asked me to. I am so very grateful that I was able to be a part of it.”

Our IGNITE program brought together almost fifty year 9 and 10 students in Hobart and Devonport. Led by exceptional women at pitt&sherry together with our industry partners, the students engaged with our engineers, scientists, and leaders in STEM. They visited industrial sites, engaged in technical talks and experienced firsthand what it means to have a career in STEM.

Experiencing STEM in action

Two photos of students learning about STEM. On the left a student is looking at a mineral sample. On the right, a group of students together wearing high vis and protective gear.

Students donned high-vis and put boots on the ground across Tasmanian workplaces to witness STEM in action.

In Hobart, IGNITE students visited MONA to examine the tunnel construction inside the gallery and heard from leading geotechnical engineer Delia Sidea (pitt&sherry) about the project. At Nyrstar they learnt about mineral processing and environmental rehabilitation. Finally, they heard from legendary Dr. Barbara Frankel about the latest exploration and monitoring technology at Mineral Resources Tasmania.

In Devonport, students visited Elphinstone (who doesn’t love big trucks!), TasNetworks’ Burnie substation to highlight the critical role of power distribution and the Hive Planetarium in Ulverstone, where they heard Dr. Martin George of ABC radio fame explain the wonders of space!

Alongside STEM professional women working on some of Australia’s biggest technical projects, students applied creative thinking and problem-solving in hands-on engineering challenges.

Two photos side by side. On the left students are testing a water wheel. On the right students are working on an engineering challenge in a group.

In Hobart, together with senior engineers Leenah Ali-Lavroff and Sandra Diaz (pitt&sherry), students examined the impact of reaction times on road design and discussed the impact of engineering designs on public safety, the variables to consider, and the pitfalls of relying on numbers alone.

Hydro Tasmania’s Gina Loewen and Sue Street joined us in Devonport, bringing along a testing tank for designing water wheels, which they used to explain the importance of recycled materials. Students then constructed a water wheel of their design, and tested it to see who could generate efficient power and get the highest RPM.

Increasing the visibility of women in STEM

Two photos side by side, showing women in STEM giving presentations to young women in high school.

Students engaged with some amazing women in STEM fields through formal presentations and informal networking. Women at all career levels spoke about their unique fields, the challenges they’ve faced, and the steps they’ve taken to shape their careers.


We thank our industry partners MONA, Nyrstar, Hive, Elphinstone, TasNetworks, Mineral Resources Tasmania, and Hydro Tasmania, and the Department for Education, Children and Young People for supporting the IGNITE School Program for Young Women in STEM.

“It was awesome to see so many bright young women in the room, so engaged in the activities and asking deeply thoughtful questions. We hope we’ve broken down thought barriers to STEM careers for girls and look forward to meeting the students as future colleagues one day!”  – Megan Abbott, Geologist and Program Coordinator.

The IGNITE Program forms part of our ongoing support for gender equality in engineering under our Making the Difference the pitt&sherry way framework.


pitt&sherry received a grant from the Department of Communities (now Department for Education, Children and Young People), Tasmania towards this program.

Photography by Cameron Jones Visuals

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