Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science at the University of Technology

The Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNG Unitech) is proudly empowering and encouraging women to pursue technical education, with a panel dialogue on 10 February 2023 to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Equal participation by women in technical careers is vital for PNG to participate in the modern workforce and global economy. This includes supporting women and girls to complete technical education, to build the skills and confidence to participate in this essential field. However, despite extensive efforts by the global community and in PNG, women and girls continue to be excluded from fully participating in STEM education and careers.

The event themed ‘Shifting the Balance: Building the NEXGenGirls in STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) featured speeches from Unitech Chancellor, Dame Jean Kekedo, and Ms Diane Barclay, Minister-Counsellor at the Australian High Commission. Ms Barclay highlighted both the opportunities for PNG through investments in STEM, as well as the extensive support Australia is providing to support women and girls in STEM in PNG.

“Without high quality, locally-delivered STEM education, women will not progress to careers in STEM. Australia is proud to support women and girls in STEM in primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as through our infrastructure and health investments,” Ms Barclay said.

Founder PNG Women in Construction; Rachel Nurvue, AHC Representative, Diane Barcley; Manager-Civil Engineering Laboratory, Michelle Silip; Unitech Registrar; VeronicaThomas,; Lecturer Business Information System, Francisca Pambel and panel moderator, Scott Waide.

“This includes Australia Awards scholarships and short courses, investments in university infrastructure to support more places for women STEM students and working with contractors to employ women in non-traditional roles such as engineering, as seen at the ANGAU redevelopment project,” Ms Barclay concluded.

The event also included a panel of prominent leaders and role models including Ms Michelle Silip, Civil Engineering Lab Manager at Unitech, Ms Rachel Nurvue, Founder of PNG Women in Construction, and Ms Georgina Kiele, Executive Manager, Cybersecurity and Digital Government Standards, Department of Information, Communication & Technology.

“Our country is now at a juncture where more women and girls are venturing into professions that have been perceived for so many years to be professions for men only. Promoting women and girls in STEM is the way forward for PNG to harness the untapped potential of its human resources,” said Dame Jean Kekedo.

The event is just one-way Unitech is actioning its commitment to getting more women and girls into technical education. It has increased enrolment of female students in STEM courses by 2.6% between 2015 and 2022; through the Incentive Fund grant, the University hopes to further increase that with the construction of new accommodation for women students including those studying STEM subjects.

The achievements of women in science have not always been recognised, but today’s event is an opportunity to give prominence to equity and inclusiveness and outline a different future for women and girls in science, technology, engineering and maths.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100