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This National Science Week we’ve collaborated with UTS Women In Engineering and IT and the Techgirls Movement Foundation to share #MySTEMstory – the stories of women from rural regions of NSW who have forged amazing careers in STEM.

In Australia, and particularly in remote and rural areas, girls have low STEM participation rates and low STEM aspirations in school, compared with boys. This means that, as adults, women are less likely to work in STEM or study STEM after school. Addressing the traditional stereotypes about ‘male’ and ‘female’ careers and presenting female role models, and enabling activities that address the lower self-confidence and strong feelings of anxiety toward maths and science that some girls feel – despite having the same ability and achievement as boys – is known to encourage greater interest in these fields.

Meet five women who share #MySTEMstory – who grew up in rural New South Wales, inspiring rural girls to dream big.

Dr Mary McMillan

Now: Biomedical scientist and a Senior Lecturer at the University of New England School of Science and Technology. Then: horse-riding fanatic.

Renee Noble

Now: Software Engineer at Grok Learning, Then: avid boogie boarder down at Jetty Beach, Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Brenna Nichols

Now: Studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Technology Sydney. Then: chief fence fixer on the farm in Duramana, NSW.

Dr Alex Thomson

Now: Manager of the Deep Green Biotech Hub, and a Subject Coordinator and Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at UTS. Then: negotiating tractor rides with her dad in Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Emma Barnett

Now: working as both a physics educator at the University of Melbourne and and education officer at Swinburne. Then: camping out bush near Deniliquin, NSW.

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. Running each year in August, it features more than 1000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres.