Friday Hoyden: Marita Cheng, Young Australian of the Year

Marita Cheng is the Young Australian of the Year winner this year. She’s been involved in volunteering since she was a high school student, and in 2008, early in her undergraduate studies (mechatronic engineering and computer science at the University of Melbourne) she founded Robogals, which is an engineering and computing outreach group, in which women university students run robotics workshops for high school age girls.

Marita, while still in the final year of her undergraduate degree, is also an entrepreneur and has been previously awarded for her work as founder of Robogals, including winning the Anita Borg Change Agent award in 2011.

While I have heard of Robogals (there’s talk of a chapter starting at my university), I hadn’t heard of Marita specifically before she became Young Australian of the Year. One of the fascinating things about starting the Ada Initiative is slowly discovering all the other amazing women who work in technology career outreach and related endeavours. But it’s a little embarrassing, judging from her bio, to have not heard Marita Cheng’s name before this week.

Congratulations Marita.


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Categories: gender & feminism, technology

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6 replies

  1. Hurrah for Marita! Fantastic outreach and mentoring, may there be much more of it.

  2. Amazing isn’t it, a young person does something really important like promote science to high school students and you hear nothing of it, yet the papers are filled with made up leadership challenge speculation and what the PM is wearing day in day out.
    Fantastic that Marita is just getting on with it and making the world a better place. A richly deserved award. I hope to hear a lot more about this young woman in the future.

  3. Well, to be fair, being selected as Young Australian of the Year is quite visible! I was more pondering what my personal silo is like, rather than press silos.

  4. What I meant was I haven’t even heard of her as one of those good news stories that they like to put at the end of a news or ACA bulletin. I would have thought that someone trying to promote the study of sciences, which obviously she has been doing successfully for a while, would been in the media spotlight a bit more. But I guess she isn’t a sportsperson.

  5. To be honest, I’m not a very big MSM consumer, so sometimes I forget how its coverage of people’s work can be skewed!

  6. Mindy @ 4 – hopefully she’ll get some coverage in one of the ABC science programs now. News and current affairs programs aren’t much into covering sciences or engineering except when there is a big breakthrough. They just whine every now and then about the lack of people studying them (and mathematics) at uni.

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