As one of 60 women recognised as a 2019 – 2020 Superstar of STEM, Dr Juliette Tobias-Webb is one of Australia’s most impressive behavioural scientists. She has established a career creating real-world change by the application of scientific evidence. Juliette also leads a Women in Leadership MBA stream covering topics including empowerment, motivation, resilience, wellbeing, and equality through organisational design.
As we acknowledge the achievements and strive for equality for women this International Women’s Day, we wanted to find out from Dr Tobias-Webb how she got involved in a STEM career. We also talked about how we can support girls and women interested STEM.
Our Chat with Dr Juliette Tobias-Webb
How Did You Get Involved in STEM as a Career?
I got involved in STEM almost by accident. I loved biology at school, and understanding the human body and marine biology. But, when I went to university I got really interested in the psychology and neuroscience side of human behaviour. So, now I work with companies and look at how we use neuroscience and psychology to build better products and services. Then we experiment, using scientific methods to be able to prove a causal impact of the solutions we designed to help change behaviour.
What Careers are Possible in STEM?
There are so many careers and so many ways to get into those careers. Traditionally we often think about needing to go to university to get into a STEM career. However, now companies focus on technology so much, that they offer career pathways where you can go straight from school or straight from undergraduate university to build better skills and capabilities. But even at school people can start experimenting with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This will help to start their career earlier and build their skills.
The key is understanding what you find very interesting and rolling with that, as opposed to having to choose a career if you’re not sure. Start by thinking about those things that interest you and seeing where they take you.
Even my field, Behavioural Science didn’t exist five to ten years ago. So, what we find now is that the career that you may end up in – might not even exist yet. But rather, the basic skills and capabilities you need to learn are already there. You’ll be paving the way… we’ve got so much change happening.
Things to Consider for Girls Interested in it
It’s important that girls have exposure to people within those fields. If you’re a parent, ensure you are giving equal opportunities for girls as well as boys to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
There are studies conducted in schools, showing that in STEM Classes – boys will get more time to answer questions than girls and they’ll get different rewards. Overall girls are more brushed over. They also found we teach boys more about how to deal with their finances and math. So, we really need to make an effort to give equal time to both girls and boys.
You can also buy some books for both girls and boys around the amazing women in STEM to open their ideas and minds to both genders in these fields.
We need to smash those stereotypes. Often when we know those stereotypes, we can succumb to what’s called ‘stereotype threat’. This is where we feed into those ideas mentally. Recently, there have been studies that have shown there’s small or no difference between girls’ and boys’ mathematical ability. It’s actually something we have socialized, and therefore put into the minds of young individuals. We need to make sure we don’t perpetuate those beliefs and become more conscious of what we say and the impact that can have on our children. E.g. ‘I’m a female, I’m no good at navigation’.
What is Something You Love That’s Happening in STEM?
I love the work going on in the climate change field. In particular I like being able to understand how we take plastics and break them down by making new bacteria, being able to understand how we change electric cars and create clean energy. I really like the idea of ‘how do we reverse some of the impact we’ve had on the environment by using STEM altogether?’
More About Dr Juliette Tobias-Webb
Dr Juliette Tobias-Webb holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology from Cambridge University. She has a passion for human behaviour and psychology.
For more on how to inspire and support girls who love Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, tune into Episode 89 of the PakMag Parents Podcast with Dr Tobias-Webb joining Bree.
Science and Technology Australia (STA) brings together scientists, governments, industry and the community to advance ‘public good and social and community welfare,’ as well as strengthening society ‘through education, outreach and programs.’ In doing so, they aim to ‘advance the impact of science and technology to help solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges, including saving and improving lives.’
Members enjoy a range of workshops, programs, and events which provide skills, connections and opportunities in STEM.
STEM Women is a directory of Australian women working in STEM. They promote gender equity and showcase the talents of these women, raising profiles and providing opportunities to those who may experience barriers throughout their STEM Careers.
You can sign up as an expert or connect with the experts. Looking for a mentor? This is the perfect place to find one.