Friday, August 30, 2019

This top university is giving women 10 bonus points on their ATAR if they apply for STEM degrees like IT or engineering

The unending bigotry of the Left.  Always favouring one group over another.  Why does it matter which degrees women do? Why can't they be allowed to be different?  The push to make everybody equal is insane.  Women now get more degrees than men anyway

Women who apply for undergraduate degrees in engineering, IT and construction at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will be given extra points toward their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) as the university aims to boost the number of women in Australia’s STEM sector.

Women who apply for undergrad degrees in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology or apply for the construction degree in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building will get 10 adjustment points on their score, giving them an extra lift up if they are gunning for a spot at the university.

While adjustments won’t change your ATAR, it will change your selection rank when you apply for uni, meaning you stand a chance of getting into one of those STEM courses at UTS if you were just a few points shy.

UTS told Business Insider Australia in an email that in order to be eligible for the adjustment points, applicants “must be a female domestic student who has achieved a minimum ATAR of 69.00 (not including any other adjustment factors) applying through the Universities Admission Centre.” They also have to satisfy all the other application requirements in the course description.

The move is designed to get more women to consider degrees and careers in industries that have been male-dominated for years.

According to UTS, women make up only 13% of the engineering workforce, 28% of IT roles and 11% of positions in the building and construction sector. These stats are even worse when you consider that women make up more than half of all Australian undergraduate students (58%).

Arti Agarwal, Director of UTS Women in Engineering and IT (WiEIT) said there has been little progress in the number of initiatives designed to support more women in engineering, IT and construction. The WiEIT program provides weekly drop-in sessions for students, networking events and a mentoring program that pairs students with industry experts.

“We need our education institutions to encourage girls and women at all levels, and create a stronger ‘pipeline’ to acquire the skills and knowledge to build successful careers in dynamic areas,” she said in a statement.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board approved the extra points and the process will be available for the 2020 intake of students.
Keeping women in STEM positions

The Australian Academy of Science, together with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering developed a ‘Women in STEM Decadal Plan’ to attract and keep women in STEM industries.

Unveiled in April 2019, the plan calls for a “bold” and “sustained” effort across the whole STEM ecosystem to keep women in those industries. And that, of course, includes the education sector.

Justine Romanics, National Manager for Professional Diversity and STEM at Engineers Australia said, “We need to be disruptive – what we have been doing is not working.”

“It’s time to flick the switch. We need to show the benefits that greater diversity will create for everyone – for individuals, for teams, for organisations, for the profession.”

According to the Decadal Plan, the STEM gender gap becomes measurable in high school. In the final year of high school, the report said more young men choose to study advanced and intermediate maths, physics and chemistry compared to young women.

That trend then continues into tertiary education, with women becoming underrepresented in certain STEM courses. According to the report, they account for less than 25% of participants in engineering, computing, physics and astronomy.

Once women finally get into the STEM workforce, they are hampered by systemic barriers such as gender-based discrimination, bullying and harassment and gendered expectations around caring responsibilities.

“All of these issues combine to lead to a significant reduction in the proportion of women at every stage of professional progression in STEM fields, particularly in research and industry,” the report said.

And amid all the challenges women face in the sector, the report said one of the main reasons they choose to leave is lack of career progression.

Jessica Massih, a fifth year Civil and Environmental Engineering student from UTS, said supporting young women into tertiary studies and while they are studying, helps them believe they have a role in the industries.

“Once you are at uni, you have to do the same subjects, same assignments, and work just as hard to get good grades and opportunities,” she said in a statement. “Getting there is just the start.”

So for the young women already working hard to get a spot in engineering, IT or construction degrees at UTS, the extra points will be the icing on the cake.

And hopefully they can stay the course once they’re in.


State or climate — an easy choice

Looking at remote sensing data from NASA’s satellites across the past two decades, the Earth has increased its green leaf area by a total of 5 per cent, roughly 5.5 million square kilo­metres — equivalent to the size of the entire Amazon rainforest.

Who knew?

Certainly not French President Emmanuel Macron. In an alarmist tweet featuring a photo of an Amazon fire said to have been taken 30 years ago, he told the G7 leaders conference: “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest — the lung which produces 20 per cent of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire.” Well, not really. Atmospheric scientists claim that even though plant photosynthesis is ultimately responsible for breathable oxygen, only a fraction of that plant growth actually adds to the store of oxygen in the air. Even if all organic matter on Earth were burned at once, less than 1 per cent of the world’s oxygen would be consumed.

No doubt the Amazon fires are worrying. However, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicates that total fire activity across the entire Amazon Basin this year seems relatively unexceptional. Indeed, NASA observed on ­August 21: “It is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low ­humidity. Time will tell if this year is record-breaking or just within normal limits.”

Nevertheless, with the next UN Climate Summit due on September 23, it’s time to ring the alarm bells. Before each UN climate action conference the media rhetoric ramps up and new evidence of an existential threat is provided. A blazing Amazon rainforest is perfect propaganda ­material. But then, as British scientist Philip Stott observes: “In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning regularly for the last 50 or so years.”

Still, CNN obediently turns NASA’s cautious observation into a catastrophe, declaring: “Amazon rainforest is burning at an unprecedented rate.” NBC News despairs: “Amazon wildfires could be game over for climate-change fight.” And, predictably, The New York Times fails to mention that while today’s fires are significantly worse than last year’s, they appear close to the ­average of the past 15 years.

For Macron, the Amazon fires give him ammunition to attack someone he dislikes, right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s unfiltered style has seen him dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics” and, like the US President, he attracts condemnation for his attitude, ­especially on climate change.

It’s true, since coming to office in January, Bolsonaro has moved Brazil further away from climate action and Brazil’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. Critics argue his government has weakened the institutional and legal framework that helps fight deforestation and lessened the participation of pro-environment groups. Indeed, before Bolso­naro coming to office, Amazon deforestation had declined almost 80 per cent in a little more than a decade. Now the Brazilian President is opening up previously protected areas to private ownership. He believes forests and forest protection are impediments to Brazil’s economic growth and that his critics are leading a “disinformation campaign built against our nation’s sovereignty”.

Indeed, Brazilian farmers ­believe they have a right to burn. They see fires as a natural part of life. Most fires are agricultural in nature; smallholders burning stubble after harvest or clearing forest for crop land. For this, Don­ald Trump is also blamed. Toby Gardner, director of non-government organisation Trase, reckons the huge growth in Brazil’s farms is because of Trump’s trade war that “sent China, the top buyer of US soybeans, shopping in South America”.

But while international condemnation is directed at Brazil, what largely goes unreported is that the worst fires are in Bolivia. But then Bolivian President Evo Morales is of the hard left and seeking a fourth term in office. Unlike Bolsonaro, Morales talks the global warming talk. In 2010 he hosted a summit to tackle “the threats of capitalism against life, climate change and the culture of life”. Having politically correct credentials gives him a free pass. He can approve oil ­exploration and fracking in indigenous territories. All 11 of the ­nation’s protected areas have been opened for oil and gas exploration. But still Morales is spared criticism.

Of course, Bolsonaro’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and his abandonment of Brazil’s offer to host a key Latin America and Caribbean climate week on the grounds “the event only serves as a platform for NGOs … which has nothing to do with climate change” did nothing for his global standing.

Nor with Macron, whose relationship with the Brazilian is now toxic. A proud Bolsonaro accuses Macron of having a “colonialist mentality”, while the Frenchman calls him a liar over a broken pledge to fight global warming. Macron says he will block efforts to seal a major trade deal with Brazil. Now the relationship has completely broken apart after a Brazilian supporter posted an insulting comment about Macron’s wife that Bolsonaro re-tweeted.

Such are the politics of climate change. Like the US, Brazil believes its national interest lies outside the Paris Agreement. It is not alone. Countries such as Bolivia, Poland and others, including Aus­tralia, find it increasingly difficult to balance domestic priorities with the economically crippling demands of their Paris commitments.

Something will have to give. Environmental awareness is one thing but outsourcing sovereignty is something else. Amazon fires have exposed what has long been suspected. Despite international agreements and peer group coercion, in the end nations will pursue their self-interest. With the passing of each survival deadline that decision becomes easier.


NAPLAN results spark further calls for overhaul of student testing system

There seems to be a lot of blaming the messenger here

Victoria is leading a push for an overhaul of the NAPLAN school testing system, proposing a job certificate to help engage students and a change to the ages of test-takers, to combat flagging results in high schools.

National preliminary figures for the 2019 tests showed while primary school students had small lifts in average scores in some areas, results were stagnant for most categories.

Nationally, Year 7 and 9 students slid backwards on the baseline score in writing and Year 9 students' scores were flat across the board.

The results, released this morning, are further ammunition for critics of the assessment scheme, with three states, including Victoria, already leading a review into the tests.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan conceded there was "further work to do" in bringing up literacy and numeracy scores.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said Year 9 was "the most difficult" cohort to engage in their education. "If they don't see the relevance in the test, they're not going to take it seriously," he said.

In a bid to boost engagement, he has proposed linking the tests to a literacy and numeracy certificate for Year 9 students to show would-be employers.

"We need our Year 9 students to think 'OK, this test means something, I'm going to give it my best shot, and I'm going to give it my best shot because I'm going to get a certificate that's going to go into my careers portfolio'," he said.

A newly-established advisory committee of principals from government, independent and Catholic schools will begin assessing the proposal.

The National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy, better known as NAPLAN, is standardised testing taken by students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across the country.

The tests have proved controversial, particularly their move from pen and paper to online, which has seen widespread computer glitches affecting students and concern over the legitimacy of the results.

The three largest states — New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria — are running a review of the system, which has been operating in its current form for more than a decade.

Mr Merlino said he had asked the review to consider changing the target students to those in years 4, 6, 8 and 10. "It makes common sense to me," he said.

Any recommendations made by the states' review would need to be accepted by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

'Let's not blame the tests,' Tehan urges.  Mr Tehan said he wanted to work with states and territories to make sure they kept "their eye on the ball" to improve secondary school results.

His Opposition counterpart Tanya Plibersek said the Government had shown a "a complete failure to address the problems in our schools". "Of course the Federal Government has a responsibility here," she said.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) seized on the results to renew its criticism of online NAPLAN testing, which it said was plagued by issues that "fundamentally undermine the credibility of the data".

"Despite whatever story ACARA tries to spin, this data is so seriously compromised it should not be relied upon by education departments, schools, parents, and the broader community," AEU acting federal president Meredith Peace said.

"Teachers and principals cannot trust NAPLAN or the results it has produced."

Mr Tehan defended the system and said Australians would not know about problem areas without them. "Let's not blame the tests. Let's make sure that we understand what the results are and where we need to put the work in," he said.

ACARA CEO David Carvalho said the results were reviewed by independent measurement advisory experts before their release and results should be interpreted "with care".

Despite the flagging results for Year 9 students, Victoria's primary schools led the country in seven out of 10 different measures. Across the country, there was an upturn in all student writing results compared to 2018.

"NAPLAN results for 2019 in writing have shown a pleasing improvement from last year, and it is a trend we would like to see continue, given the decline in recent years across all year levels," Mr Carvalho said.

Students and schools will receive their individual results next week.


Liberal Party architects of SSM bill back Christian Porter’s religious protections bill

The Liberal Party architects of Australia’s same-sex marriage laws have broadly backed Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination bill.

North Queensland MP Warren Entsch led the push towards the legislation of marriage equality from within the Liberal Party when it returned to power in 2013. WA Senator Dean Smith wrote the bill that was ultimately passed after 7.8 million Australians voted in favour of same-sex unions.

Today’s draft Religious Discrimination Act partly exists to address concerns from religious Australians who feared same-sex marriage could encroach on their beliefs and rights.

Senator Smith and Mr Entsch both said Attorney-General Christian Porter’s decision to avoid enshrining freedom of religion and instead molding his laws in the image of other anti-discrimination was the right move.

“I wholeheartedly support the introduction of a religious discrimination bill,” Senator Smith told The Australian.

“Pursuit of a religious discrimination bill was initially proposed by the Senate Select Committee which examined same sex marriage and has been comprehensively examined and endorsed by the Ruddock Review.

“Substantively the draft bill is a faithful expression of the Government’s response to the Ruddock Review released in December last year.

“The case for a positive rights approach has been poorly made and the Attorney-General is correct to have rejected the idea as inconsistent with Australia’s legal approach and fraught with inherent legal risk.

“Australia’s anti-discrimination architecture has served Australians well and enjoys broad endorsement across the community and it would be careless to dismantle it now.

Mr Entsch told The Australian today he was pleased the Attorney-General had avoided a freedom of religion bill, but he was still to read the full bill and wanted to consult with LGBTI groups.

“This bill is always what was intended. That’s what the Ruddock Review recommended and it couldn’t be anything else, otherwise we’d need a whole other review,” he said.

“I have to say Mr Porter has been good and he’s always kept me up to scratch. There is no reason to think the Attorney has done anything other than his absolute best on this.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has unveiled laws to protect Australians from discrimination on the basis of their religious belief, but the laws do not go as far as many church leaders want.

The Attorney-General’s Religious Discrimination Bill will take the form of similar anti-discrimination laws on gender, age, race and disability, and be brought before parliament in October.

It will not be a broader “religious freedom” act which Mr Porter said today would be too vague and lead to courts ultimately deciding what rights matter more in Australia.

“Australia has a strong anti-discrimination framework with specific protections for people against discrimination on the basis of their age, sex, race and disability,” Mr Porter said.

“This draft Bill released today extends those protections to provide protection for people against discrimination on the basis of their religion or religious belief, or lack thereof.

“The Bill would make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of religious belief or activity in key areas of public life. The Bill does not create a positive right to freedom of religion.”

The Religious Discrimination Act would create a new Freedom of Religion Commissioner and provide comprehensive protection on religious belief and activity.

“Whilst there will always be competing views on issues such as this, the government considers the draft Bill presented today strikes the right balance in the interests of all Australians,” Mr Porter said.

“Consultation has already been undertaken through my office and the office of the Prime Minister with a range of stakeholder groups, including religious organisations.

“Further consultation with a wide range of stakeholders will now follow the release of the Bill and I look forward to working constructively with interested parties in settling a final Bill over the coming weeks. The first of these consultations will take place next week.

“I expect the Bills can be introduced in October and considered by both the House and Senate before the end of the calendar year, allowing time for a Senate inquiry.”

Some religious leaders boycotted the speech by Mr Porter at Sydney’s Great Synagogue because of his inclination against a broader act enshrining freedom of religion.

Mr Porter today said he was always opposed to such a broad law and this religious discrimination bill would provide courts with a better structure by which to weigh up religious issues.

He also said that some religious leaders did not understand the fallout any religious freedoms bill could entail.

“Aside from not being what was recommended from the extensive consultative analysis of the Ruddock Review, or indeed what was taken and promised at a full federal election, there are several obvious problems with the positive rights approach,” he said in Sydney.

“At several points of the consultations, I might respectively say, on this issue it appeared people had not thought through the positive rights approach — including those in church groups who were calling for it.

“I have always found vague and unconvincing ... a list of rights and leaving the courts to determine the outcomes.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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