Meet Meghan: future female leader, scientist and role model
Women hold fewer than one in five senior researcher positions in Australian universities and research institutes, and account for just a quarter of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) workforce overall*.
With statistics like these, it's clear that the STEM fields have long been dominated by males, but Eaglehawk student Meghan Frederick, one of the latest Australian Business Community Network (ABCN) Foundation Scholarship recipients, is bucking the trend.
Passionate about science since a young age, the Year 11 student has her sights set on a career in medicine or scientific research, and is now one step closer thanks to the assistance of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank-supported scholarship, which assists exceptional students facing economic, family or social challenges to achieve their dreams.
Among 21 students Australia-wide to be awarded the scholarship, Meghan will receive $7,000 over Years 11 and 12 and in the first year of her tertiary education to assist in the purchase of study resources and help alleviate the financial strain of further education.
A female leader in the making, Meghan will also receive mentoring as part of her scholarship from one of banking and agriculture's top women leaders, Rural Bank CEO, Alexandra Gartmann, to build confidence and help make positive life choices.
"Undertaking a career in science is both rewarding and demanding. Science can help us solve many of the world's problems, but realising the opportunities takes a lot of hard work, dedication and a possibility mindset, Ms Gartmann said.
It also takes a strong support network, especially for students facing economic, geographic, family or social challenges which impact on their study or capacity to pursue their desired tertiary pathways.
"I remember those that helped me and now I'm grateful for the opportunity to 'pay it forward' and be able to do the same for Meghan."
Recently completing an exchange program at John Monash Science School, Meghan is excited about the road ahead and the further opportunities the scholarship will open up for her.
"I'm passionate about studying and learning, and a career in science has plenty of opportunities to specialise in many fields," Meghan said.
"It's a relief to be able to continue my studies with the financial security this scholarship provides.
"The funds will help lift the financial burden on my family, enabling me to purchase a computer, text books and additional school supplies.
"My goal is to show my local community that anything is possible and that from hard work comes incredible opportunities."
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Managing Director, Mike Hirst, said Meghan was the ideal recipient – full of enthusiasm, curiosity and a keenness to learn.
"While we'd like to think that all young people are able to access educational opportunities, the costs are significant and can be a challenge for many families," Mr Hirst said.
"As part of our commitment to help build stronger communities, our Bank doesn't want these young people to miss out on achieving their academic dreams and maybe one day retuning home with their skills and knowledge to benefit their local community.
"It is one of the diverse ways we give back to our communities and an integral part of who we are and what we do as an organisation."
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has actively supported ABCN in both South Australia and Victoria since 2013, through various mentoring programs and most recently, the ABCN Foundation scholarship program.
To find out more about ABCN's vision to inspire, challenge and engage businesses to have a greater positive impact in the community visit www.abcn.com.au
* Australian Government National Innovation and Science Agenda - Opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths