Girls at Orange High School will be encouraged to consider careers in the agri-tech sector after agriculture teacher Melanie Campbell was selected as one of 15 female teachers to take part in a new school-based project.
Ms Campbell was selected from 68 applicants and is one of only three NSW teachers taking part in the Central Queensland University run STEM (science technology engineering and maths) and agriculture project, Women in Agri-tech.
Ms Campbell grew up in Orange and said she has always had an interest in agriculture, in particular cattle handling and animal production.
She said agriculture is compulsory for students in year 7 or 8 but they can elect to study the subject in subsequent years with just under half of her elective students being girls.
Currently, women comprise close to 50 per cent of the Australian workforce across all industries. However, in agriculture, females make up only 30 per cent of employeesWomen in Agri-tech Project leader and researcher Dr Amy Cosby
“Currently, we have a major focus on the development of new programs including project-based learning and digital technology,” Ms Campbell said.
“I am looking forward to investigating opportunities and innovations which will allow greater exposure for our students into the world of agri-tech.”
She said the agri-tech program would look at the emerging technology in agriculture and the current advances that are happening in the sector and will be separate to the existing STEM program at the school.
Project leader and researcher Dr Amy Cosby said the agricultural industry is changing with the ever-increasing use of technology demanding a workforce with a higher degree of digital literacy and STEM skills.
“Currently, women comprise close to 50 per cent of the Australian workforce across all industries. However, in agriculture, females make up only 30 per cent of employees,” she said.
“Of primary concern is the lack of women in leadership positions in agricultural businesses, with only 14 per cent of females in management roles and representing only 18 per cent of people on boards.”
She said the 15 selected teachers will attend the Women in Agri-tech Symposium in Brisbane in early February, where they will learn about the latest and emerging agri-tech and participate in a program run by River City Labs about the entrepreneurial process.
“Throughout the year, they will then work with researchers and tech developers to put together and trial a learning module with their students,” Dr Crosby said.
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