Australia is well known for its contribution to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — from laying the foundations for the field of radio astronomy and developing the basis of efficient computer processing, to identifying the cause of global mass extinctions in frogs and discovering how to detect breast cancer through a blood test.
Australian women have played key roles in all of these great contributions that have had unquestionably positive impacts on our lives. However, if we do not take action, the current gender imbalance in STEM means that we are at risk of losing the important contributions that Australian girls and women stand to make. This is simply unacceptable. By ensuring STEM is representative of the society in which we live we have the opportunity to achieve much more, making great advances for our nation, and for the world. Building an inclusive and diverse STEM workforce also ensures we are positioning Australia to take full advantage of the jobs of the future, whether as a robotics engineer, cyber security analyst, or commercial space pilot.
Addressing gender inequities in STEM is a key challenge not only for Australia, but for many countries across the world. That’s why there has never been a more important time for the Australian Government to continue showing leadership to drive change in our systems, institutions and workplaces to encourage and enable more girls and women to pursue STEM studies and careers.
The Liberal National Government is committed to improving the participation of women in STEM across all fields. In the 2018–19 Budget, we committed to the development of a Women in STEM Strategy and a Decadal Plan for Women in STEM. Together, these documents set out the path forward for sustained increases in women’s STEM participation and retention, through early childhood, education and careers. I believe that by working together, government, industry, academia, research, education and the community can achieve better outcomes for our girls and women, and for all Australians over the next ten years.
It is my pleasure to present Advancing Women in STEM – the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure all Australians, regardless of gender, have the opportunity for rewarding, high income jobs in workplaces that value the talent and skills of their people.