It’s time to banish the gender stereotypes associated with technology, according to the inaugural winner of the Moreton Bay Region Businesswoman of the Year.
STEM Punks founder Fiona Holmstrom was honoured with the award at the Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Awards at the Eatons Hill Hotel on Friday night.
The awards are delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) with sponsorship through its partner Moreton Bay Regional Council.
Fiona says encouraging girls to explore careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a challenge and she hopes her award will give her a platform to inspire change.
“There is a great gender disparity between men and women in STEM, so that is a challenge that we face every day - to get women into STEM,” Fiona says.
“I am delighted to accept this on behalf of all of the girls who, like me, were told computers aren’t for girls, technology’s not for girls, STEM is not for girls.
“I’m here to tell you it is, and it is the way of the future.
“STEM is here to stay and there are so many amazing job opportunities for girls in STEM.”
Fiona founded the world-leading STEM education program STEM Punks for students and teachers in primary and secondary schools in her Samford Valley garage in 2017 and has quickly gained a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the industry and beyond, winning a swag of awards along the way.
“The aim is just to encourage more girls into STEM and to give girls a say and a voice and a platform to enable their future careers and their future job prospects and STEM education does that for them.
“I am really honoured to be able to have that platform to be able to help get girls into STEM.”
Fiona says all business people face many challenges – but there are some additional ones for women, who often juggle family commitments as well.
“There’s a lot of tenacity, there’s a lot of persistence, there’s a lot of banging your head against a brick wall but most importantly it’s a sense of community it’s the journey that we’re all on together that brings us to where we are,” she says.
“We have a good team behind us, you have to have great customers who believe in what we’re selling to them.
“Being in business, it’s not easy being a small businessperson. It’s challenging. Every day there’s always something that you have to accept and move on and learn (from) … you’re always learning. “To be a woman in business is challenging but here we are, so whoooo.”
She says her award is testament to the commitment of the STEM Punks team to delivering quality programs nationally and worldwide.
“I am really proud.
“It’s a team effort, everyone has contributed to this.
“We are a strong, passionate team dedicated to children’s education.”
Fiona’s advice to others keen to succeed in their chosen arena is simple: just keep going.
“If you have something you believe in and are passionate about, it will work if you believe in your dreams and push through.
“Moreton Bay’s a really special region. It has so much to offer.
“Everyone who is in the region is committed to the success of the region.”