On Friday 11th October 2019, the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl, the Honourable Jenny Mikakos, Victorian Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, presented awards to the first graduates of the Bionics Institute and Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School “Mentoring Girls in STEMM Program”.

Minister Mikakos said strong role models and early engagement were crucial to how girls and women think about STEMM careers, which is why initiatives such as mentoring programs are vital in overcoming the gender disparity in the field.

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to working towards sustained increases in women’s STEMM participation and retention, throughout early childhood, education and careers,” she said.  “It is important that we not only celebrate and highlight the incredible achievements of women in early career research but also encourage and back more women to pursue leading-edge research and innovation.”

Robert Klupacs, CEO at the Bionics Institute is passionate about ensuring young women are inspired and motivated to follow their dreams and ambitions into the STEMM field. In 2016 in Australia, women made up only 27 percent of the STEMM workforce which is is why the Institute partnered with Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School to initiate a mentoring program to ensure they are playing a pivotal role in the development of girls into STEMM. The Bionics Institute has identified the need to engage with female students at the high school level to provide a sample of the opportunities and rewards a career in STEMM can bring.

Earlier this year the Bionics Institute and Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School created a model where leading female research scientists of the Bionics Institute mentored selected Year 11 students. The unique learning model experience has been designed for students to become more engaged, educated and excited about a potential career in STEMM.

The Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School mentees, Emma Nguyen and Tara Stewardson were presented with an award at a ceremony at the Bionics Institute in front of Bionics Institute staff, parents, teachers and school colleagues. Emma and Tara gave an oral presentation of their research findings in the areas of ‘Next Generation Cochlear Implants’ and ‘New Bionic Treatments of Inflammatory Bowel Disease’.

Dr Deborah Priest, Principal of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School said “At Ivanhoe Girls’ we prioritise learning that is collaborative, relevant and has strong connections to real-world experiences. By working with industry partners, such as the Bionics Institute, we equip our students with not only the knowledge, but also the practical skills, capabilities and understanding of what is involved in working in medical research and development. It is wonderful for our students to be working with strong female role models in an industry that will help them make informed decisions about their future pathway and career”.

The Bionics Institute is a world-leading centre of medical bionics device development. We bring together clinicians, engineers and researchers, focussed on developing medical bionic devices and therapies to transform people’s lives. The Bionics Institute is now recognised throughout the world as a centre of excellence in hearing research and bionic device development. It was founded by Professor Graeme Clark, the inventor of the internationally renowned bionic ear (cochlear implant). Just as Professor Clark changed people’s lives many years ago with the creation of the cochlear implant, the Institute’s goal is to continue this legacy and invest in research that ensures neurological conditions can be treated and overcome.

Mr Klupacs said that the Institute is looking forward to significantly expanding their activity across further schools in 2020.

The Bionics Institute was featured in the Herald Sun on 16 November 2019 highlighting our partnership with Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School in the development of a mentor program to encourage the development of girls into STEMM.

On 16th November 2019, the Herald Sun published an article highlighting our partnership with Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School. Please refer here to read the article.

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