Modest increase in women's participation in STEM but more to do
The number of women in STEM-qualified jobs has risen to 15 per cent, a modest increase of four percentage points in the decade to 2022. But there’s more to do to boost women’s participation in STEM and close the gender pay gap.
The Albanese Government today released the 2023 STEM Equity Monitor, which tracks outcomes, pay, academic research funding and other workforce characteristics.
Over the 10 years to 2022, women qualified in non-STEM occupations rose by around 50 per cent but for STEM industries that number only increased from 11 per cent to 15 per cent.
Like other industries, pay parity remains an issue – with women earning 17 per cent less than men across all STEM industries (19 per cent across all industries).
For the first time, this year’s monitor includes Year 12 enrolment data, showing Year 12 enrolments of girls in all STEM subjects has increased slightly from 45 per cent to 47 per cent from 2013 to 2021.
However, participation varies between disciplines. In 2021, girls made up a large proportion of biological sciences enrolments (65 per cent) but fewer in engineering (23 per cent) and physics and astronomy (24 per cent) disciplines.
In higher education, in 2021, women accounted for 37 per cent of enrolments in university STEM courses – up from 34 per cent in 2015. Enrolments in vocational education and training STEM courses increased slightly from 15 per cent to 17 per cent.
Importantly, women make up 23 per cent of senior management but only hold eight per cent of Chief Executive Officer positions in STEM qualified industries.
By providing consistent definitions and tracking data across time, the STEM Equity Monitor provides valuable insights to help inform government and industry policies to help improve women’s participation in STEM.
The monitor, as well as interactive data sets and case studies of individuals in STEM education and industries, are available at www.industry.gov.au/stemequitymonitor.
Quotes attributable the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic:
“At this rate, it’ll take nearly a century for us to get to parity for women in the STEM workforce.
“It’s not good enough, we don’t have a century.
“We need to break down stereotypes about STEM careers, improve learning opportunities and how STEM workplaces attract and retain underrepresented employees.
“That’s why the Albanese Government commissioned the Diversity in STEM Review, which will release its draft report shortly.”
Quotes attributable to Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith:
“STEM skills are crucial in our increasingly technological world. Whatever industry they aspire to work in, young people will need to be confident to adopt new technologies.
“These data are a vital tool in our collective efforts to identify and remove barriers to participation in STEM education and workplaces.
“It is everyone’s responsibility, from governments to businesses, schools, and community groups to adopt gender equity practices as part of their strategy.
"The data released today provide guidance on where focus is most needed."