When Uta Wille was working towards her PhD in Germany in the late 1980’s, she swiftly learnt that being a young woman in a scientific field required resilience. Her research group was a sea of twenty men. Her supervisor told her male colleagues to ‘treat her like a raw egg and throw her into hot water’. The only woman amongst them, she had to navigate a challenging environment.
Stereotypes, gender culture, and fewer role models has perpetuated a gender gap in STEM. Dr Wille, now Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne, wants female students to feel represented in chemistry and more broadly in STEM. “Female students thrive with female role models who demonstrate that women can be truly successful contributors and leaders in scientific fields and academia” explains Dr Wille.
With equal representation, both in the classroom and through our textbooks, we can influence the balance for women in STEM and help female students continue to thrive.