Ford presents Girls in STEM 2018

'Inspired by curiosity'


girls in stem workingThis was an event for girls in Year 9 and 10. It was the chance to be inspired by women who have forged impressive careers in STEM. These women are paving the way for your students to flourish in a STEM career.

This event explored females in STEM careers with a particular emphasis on the importance of mathematics required for success. Students heard from eight leading industry experts in a range of fields about their experiences working in a STEM focused career.

Presenters shared their stories; the journey they took, the contributions they have made, the impact of being a female, tips for success, and how to overcome obstacles along the way.

There was a particular emphasis on the importance of mathematics in VCE subject selection, university degrees and in STEM careers.

An interactive panel discussion followed the individual presentations.

Videos of each speaker are available below. Click on the person’s name to view the video of their presentation.

Opening Address

Sue BarrellBOMDr Sue Barrell
Chief Scientist and Group Executive, Science and Innovation
Bureau of Meteorology

Dr Sue Barrell is passionate about the application of science to delivering highly valued outcomes for Australians. She has had a long career in the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia's national weather, climate and water agency. Her experience spans roles right across the Bureau, from forecasting to research to science and climate change policy to Senior Executive.
Since 2017, Sue has brought many of her passions together in her role as the Bureau's Chief Scientist, and Group Executive, Science and Innovation.  Her portfolio of responsibilities includes Science to Services, Enterprise Innovation, Global and National Science Relationships and Diversity, Inclusion and STEM.

As Chief Information Officer, Sue implemented a major organisational change initiative. Her research credentials include publications in satellite meteorology, cold front dynamics and cloud band climatology. Sue has been actively involved in international efforts in relation to climate policy and the coordination and integration of earth observations. Sue was recognised as a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2013, a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Science and Technology Australia Superstar of STEM. She has a BSc (Hons) in Physics and a PhD in Astronomy.    

Master of Ceremonies    

Felicity FureyThe Power of EngineeringFelicity Furey
Founding Director, Machinam

Engineer by profession, self-taught entrepreneur, working to change the world through engineering, mathematics, diversity and creativity. Felicity co-founded two social enterprises to impact diversity and engagement in engineering and mathematics – Power of Engineering and Machinam. Not-for-profit organisation Power of Engineering has inspired over 8,000 female and regional high school students across Australia about creative and diverse engineering careers. Machinam aims to engage students and teachers in real world mathematics by creating scenario based resources that are relevant to teenagers interest and future careers. She is a committed advocate for empowering girls and women to take up science careers.    

Industry experts   

Sarah CirilloTHALESSarah Cirillo
Mechanical Engineer, Thales
Sarah completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and Finance in 2014 at the University of Adelaide, having undertaken her honours year in 2013 she researched Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to design a fully self-contained agile vessel with six-degrees of freedom. Throughout her studies she applied herself to several extra-curricular programs from starting the Adelaide chapter for Robogals, whose focus is to inspire and teach young females what engineering is and how they can explore skills used in a career in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through the fun of robotic Lego; to participating in the Formula SAE competition. While her role as Business Manager concentrated on shaping the teams commercial interactions, having a strong knowledge of the design and engineering made communications easy and effective and together with the Team Manager they lead a strong team who moved from 10th place in 2012 to 4th in the 2013 competition. In her penultimate year Sarah undertook work experience in the UK with Stage One Creative Services, who specialise in design and construction from concept to completion of a wide range of projects including theatre and film stage sets, art installations and structures used in Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. Sarah was fortunate enough to prepare some of the stage for the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic games; the majority of her time was working within the CAD team and preparing safe transport of the Jaguar Landover Exhibition which travelled internationally for 3 years. Sarah joined the Protected Vehicles team at Thales in 2015 as a Graduate Engineer. Her first two years saw her training with various departments to develop an understanding of the business and her role as an engineer. Since completing the Graduate Programme she has moved into the Self-Funded Research & Development team which has provided her with many interesting opportunities to research and design new technologies into their products.

Taryn JamesFord STEAM LogoTaryn James
Aerodynamicist, Ford

Taryn is currently an Aerodynamicist with Ford Motor Company. She grew up in country Victoria and was the only girl in her VCE Specialist math class, she went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Monash University in 2010. Initially she worked at the Monash University Wind Tunnel before commencing at Ford in 2011. In her role as an aerodynamicist, she conducts both analytical simulations and physical wind tunnel testing with full-scale clay models, vehicle prototypes and production level vehicles to support the design, development and verification involved with developing a vehicle before it goes on sale. Working for a global company, her role has provided her the opportunity to travel overseas for wind tunnel testing in multiple regions. She has been the lead for various sedan vehicle programmes and involved with academic studies to increase the understanding of correlation between various wind tunnel facilities.    

Chivonne HollisCHT ArchitectsChivonne Hollis
Associate Architect, CHT Architects

Chivonne has a passion for architecture and craft, detailed design and the way these are incorporated into built form to enhance functionality. This has provided her with motivation throughout the last 15 years of her practical experience with CHT. Chivonne's expertise lies predominantly in contract administration, working on construction sites on a large variety of projects ranging from high end single residences, multi resident developments, retail, commercial and aged care projects. As a mother of two young children she finds that working part time in an effort to enhance her career in a male dominated field to be difficult. But a challenge worth accepting.   

Sharon LaiSharon Lai
Economist, Reserve Bank of Australia

Sharon is an Economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). Her current role involves analysing regional and industry-specific economic conditions. To help inform this analysis, she meets regularly with businesses from a wide of industries to discuss the conditions they are facing. Sharon’s previous roles at the RBA have been focused on monitoring bank asset performance, assessing risks to household balance sheets and analysing Australian labour markets. Sharon was drawn to economics as a career because it uses rigorous analytical methods to help solve real world-problems and inform policies that affect everyday people. In addition, economics has many diverse applications and vast multidisciplinary appeal. Sharon completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Honours in Economics from the University of Melbourne. She has recently returned to Melbourne after four years of living in Sydney. As such, her weekends currently consist of reconnecting with friends and family, exploring old favourites and new additions to the local café scene and adjusting to the (relatively!) cold weather.   

KWhiteheadKimberley Whitehead
Project Engineer, VEC Civil Engineering

Kimberley graduated from RMIT University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Kimberley started her career by completing a graduate program at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. During a rotation in the Sustainability Team, Kimberley presented at the Victorian Stormwater Conference in 2014 which was then recognised in the 2014 Stormwater Victorian awards, winning in the category of Excellence in Policy or Education for a Downpipe Diverter initiative that was rolled out for the Balcombe Estuary catchment. From there Kimberley acted in a management role in the Safer Local Roads maintenance contract with Downer Edi Works. This lead to a secondment and then a full time position with Downer within the Pavements division managing projects in regional Victoria. To date her experience has largely been in delivering and managing Road Construction Projects up to $5M for VicRoads, just under $15M over a 18month period. Kimberley has recently taken on the opportunity to challenge and expand her construction knowledge and skill set by transferring to VEC, within the wider Downer Group, to assist in the build and delivery of Bridge Projects.    

Kirsten PilattiBCNAKirsten Pilatti
Chief Executive Officer, Breast Cancer Network Australia

Kirsten Pilatti was appointed CEO in March 2018. She has an exceptional understanding of the cancer sector having spent over a decade at BCNA and five years at Cancer Council Victoria where she was responsible for delivering communications and campaigns around prevention messages. Highly regarded for her passion and focus on Australian women and men who have been affected by breast cancer, she is committed to giving everyone a voice and reducing the disparity of care across the country. Kirsten was born and raised in Western Australia and lives in Melbourne with her partner and two sons.    


9:00 - 9:15 




Master of Ceremonies: Felicity Furey

Opening address: Dr Sue Barrell, Chief Scientist of the Bureau of Meteorology




Morning tea




Interactive panel discussion


Ford, Gold sponsor
Felicity Furey, Machinam



Download a PDF of the program here.

Student Testimonials:

I have a real passion for science and would love to become a Geologist, so attending this event allowed me to see what kind of careers I can do in the scientific field.

I found mathematics difficult and couldn't really see why it was important in the long run. I was so wrong!

Be prepared to give things a go, don't worry if you do not know what you want to do in a career, take time to find the thing that you are passionate about but keep on with your STEM studies.
The variety of careers, and understanding that Engineering is not just a few types, but many and varied. Use of Maths is important in those careers.

Peter Batchelor

Peter is the Webmaster of the Mathematical Association of Victoria. A long, long time ago he was a Primary teacher and then taught computer subjects and Mathematics to Year 10 before becoming a lecturer at RMIT and then working with subject associations to develop their web presence.

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