New South Wales Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor has called on students and women who work in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field to "keep pressuring" government to do better when it comes to closing the gender divide that currently exists in the tech sector.
"We have to do better. Keep pressuring us and keep telling your story," Taylor told a room of women at a Western Sydney Women International Women's Day STEM event on Wednesday.
Taylor continued saying that while government can "do lots of things" such as provide grants, establish programs, and talk about STEM, the "most powerful thing" that can be done is addressing the gender issue at grassroots level by women, who are already in the STEM field, voicing their concerns.
"I think that's really important," she said.
"I think as women we don't do that as well because we just think, 'Oh, I won't talk about myself' or 'Oh, I don't deserve that because oh no, they're so much better'. No, crap. Like stop. It has to stop."
Taylor said she understands the struggle personally. Prior to entering politics, she worked in nursing, a female-dominated workforce, but now finds herself in politics, a "very male dominated workforce with the most enormous egos I've ever encountered in my life".
"I'm surprised sometimes they fit through the door," she said.
See also: Making it count: What it is like to be a woman in tech
Taylor also raised the importance for the need to call out inappropriate behaviour.
"Everybody wants to talk about it, but they don't necessarily want to call it out .... Because I think we do have to do a bit of shaming as well unfortunately," she said.
The statements come off the back of accusations from Labor MP Greg Donnelly during NSW budget estimates that Taylor was "playing the gender card" in response to a question about her responsibilities as Rural Health Minister.
Shortly following the comments Taylor requested that Donnelly withdraw his statement.
"I'm the most senior woman this government in New South Wales, so to patronise me in that way is unacceptable," she said, hitting back at Taylor.
Additionally, Taylor believes it's not just women who can play a role in closing the gender divide in STEM -- it's men too.
"There are so many fabulous men out there that really stand up for us and do that. We need to encourage that, and we need to … just say to them, 'You know what, I really appreciated that you said that just then, that means a lot to me'. And you have you have to find those people and seek those people out that are going to support you as well," she said.