ACT News


Narrabundah College year 12 Claire Yung wins spot in International Science Olympiad

Narrabundah College student Claire Yung smashed her goals and the glass ceiling when she was named among Australia's representatives in the International Science Olympiad.

The Lyneham 17-year-old, who has dreamed of representing Australia in the Olympic Games for science since 2015, will be the first female student from the ACT to attend the Olympiad in 16 years when she flies to Indonesia in July.

Claire received the green team blazer on Monday after beating 5000 students from more than 300 schools for the coveted spot.

Of the 17 students participating in the International Science Olympiad, eight spots were given to girls, equalling 2015's record high level of representation.

The average number of women on teams has lagged at 23 per cent.

"It's an absolute honour but I think it highlights how there's still a bit of inequity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) between genders because there have actually been 10 other Canberra students since then - just none of them have been female," Claire, in year 12, said.


"But it's good Australia is doing something about it. This year nearly half the students in the science teams are girls, which is a dramatic improvement especially compared to other countries.

"I'm very proud."

Former chief scientist Ian Chubb said it made sense for Australia to nurture female talent in science subjects.

"Australia needs all the talent it can get its hands on, and to say to half of the talent in Australia 'It's not something you do' is really silly," he said.

"For a long time we've had very smart young women who didn't participate in these sort of programs anything like the numbers that they could've done for all sorts of cultural reasons - it's hard, it's not things girls do, this, that - and I think we're finally breaking through that."

Claire, who will compete in the physics competition alongside four New South Wales students from July 16 to 24, listed chemist Rosalind Franklin and astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell as inspirations.

"They fought against the odds because they were deeply outnumbered and especially sometimes males got the credit that they deserved, so that was tough, but they were admirable and inspirational despite that," she said.