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Bishop: Up STEM early or fall further behind

03:00pm June 25 2018

Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop MP, speaking at the Vogue Codes summit.  (Emma Foster)

“Of all the world’s problems that could be solved, they would be solved if more women were in charge.”

This was the rousing comment from Australia’s foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop MP at the third annual Vogue Codes Summit in Sydney on Friday, adding that this wasn’t just her view but the common conclusion from an annual gathering with female counterparts at the United Nations' annual leader's week in New York.

Watch foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop at Vogue Codes.

Ms Bishop, who is also Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, warned that no country could reach its full potential unless it embraced the skills, talent and intellect of women, and that Australia was behind many comparable countries in its uptake of science, technology, engineering and maths – or STEM. She said more women role models were important.

“If Australia is to reach its full potential, be a smart and sophisticated country, with educated people who are competing globally, if we’re to sustain our standard of living, then we need more women and girls who are STEM literate and undertaking STEM careers,” she said.

More broadly, she said too little science was being taught in primary schools, which feeds into the dearth of STEM expertise and teachers “and the cycle goes on”.

An initiative of Vogue Australia, Vogue Codes – which brought together a packed agenda of sessions hosted across multiple days in Sydney and Melbourne this month and attracted audiences in excess of 2200 – aims to make careers in STEM more fashionable, in a bid to boost the number of women entering the field, a figure that currently stands at only 16 per cent.

Watch Ms Bishop’s whole speech.

Westpac is a principal sponsor of Vogue Codes.

Emma Foster is a freelance writer. Previously, she led Westpac Wire and was a key contributor until December 2022. Prior to joining Westpac in 2013, she spent almost 20 years in corporate affairs and investor relations, primarily in large financial services and consultancy firms, in Australia, UK and Europe. She is also a photographer and podcaster.

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