Women in Science Journalism
Feature

Women in Science Journalism

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Sunday 11th February marked an annual observance to promote full and equal access and participation of women in STEM. Telum spoke to Belinda Smith, Online Science Reporter for ABC, about what this day means to her.

What drew you to science reporting?
An insatiable curiosity about how the world works. I was that annoying kid who asked, "But, why?" (and still am, to an extent). I actually thought for I wanted to be a scientist for a while, and was on the way to a career in research. But my honours year taught me that while I love science, I don’t love doing science, nor do I love focusing on one receptor, in one part of the body, in one disease. Instead, I now get to talk to all manner of researchers about their work and investigate the rabbit holes my still-curious mind takes me down.

What role does journalism play in ensuring women in STEM are represented and closing the gender gap in Science?
Media representation matters - perhaps not as much as some of the other holes in the leaky pipeline, but it is important. I have felt a distinct shift in recent years for journalists and media organisations to elevate voices that have traditionally been sidelined or ignored, that includes more women and non-binary people. At ABC Science, we track who we interview to ensure our stories reflect the diversity of Australia. Whilst the general media stereotype of what a scientist looks and sounds like is slowly being dismantled, there’s still a way to go.
 
When you are sent a story lead or pitch, what do you want to see?
A good story. It doesn’t really matter what the topic is - if you have a strong hook, juicy characters and narrative arc, and you can keep me enthralled through to the finish, I’m keen.

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