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engineering|technology|training

Female STEM participation slow to pick up - report

21st July 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Female participation in Australia’s science, technology, engineering and math- (STEM-) qualified jobs has increased by 15%, or four percentage points, in the decade to 2022, the federal government revealed this week.

The 2023 STEM Equity Monitor, which tracks outcomes, pay, academic research funding and other workforce characteristics, found that over the 10 years to 2022, women qualified in non-STEM occupations rose by around 50% but for STEM industries that number only increased from 11% to 15%.

Like other industries, pay parity also remains an issue, with women earning 17% less than men across all STEM industries, and 19% less across all industries.

For the first time, this year’s monitor includes Year 12 enrollment data, showing Year 12 enrollments of girls in all STEM subjects has increased only slightly from 45% to 47% from 2013 to 2021. 

However, participation varies between disciplines. In 2021, girls made up around 65% of biological sciences enrollments, but fewer in engineering, at 23%, and physics and astronomy, at 24%, disciplines.

In higher education, in 2021, women accounted for 37% of enrollments in university STEM courses, up from 34% in 2015. Enrollments in vocational education and training STEM courses increased slightly from 15% to 17%.

Importantly, women make up 23% of senior management but only hold eight per cent of CEO positions in STEM-qualified industries.

“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,” said Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic.

“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 government commissioned the Diversity in STEM Review, which will release its draft report shortly.”

Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith said STEM skills were crucial in an 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.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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