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About the Monitor

We released the first edition of the STEM Equity Monitor on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020. This is the second edition and we will update it annually until 2029.

The Monitor provides national data on girls’ and women’s participation in and engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across 4 stages of the pathway:

  • primary and secondary school
  • higher education
  • graduation outcomes
  • the workforce

It collects and integrates data from a range of sources and places them into a single publication.

Each data page provides interactive data visualisations and high-level observations from the data. Users can filter or reconfigure the interactive data, so they can make their own observations. As the relevant issues are different for each stage of the pathway, data examined in each section is not comparable to other sections.

The Monitor aims to help policy makers and the STEM sector understand where progress is being made. It can also show where they can focus future investment in programs and policies to drive greater gender equity in STEM.

When interpreting data in the Monitor note that significance testing has not been carried out.

Acknowledgements

Our department would like to thank the following agencies, departments and other organisations who contributed data that has been used for the STEM Equity Monitor:

  • The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
  • Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
  • The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
  • The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
  • Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
  • Australian Public Service Commission (APSC)
  • Australian Research Council (ARC)
  • The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE)
  • The Defence and Science Technology Group (DST)
  • Geoscience Australia (GA)
  • National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • The Social Research Centre
  • YouthInsight (the research arm of Student Edge)
  • Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)

We would also like to thank the Office of the Chief Scientist, Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador (Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith), and all those who have contributed support and advice through the development of the Monitor.

Data labelling for gender, women and men

The Australian Government recognises that individuals may identify and may be recognised within the community as a gender other than the biological sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is neither or not exclusively woman or man.

On this basis, we have chosen to consistently use the terms ‘gender’, ‘women’ and ‘men’ to identify the data in the Monitor. These terms (and ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ for minors) encompass cisgender (personal gender identity corresponding with sex assigned at birth), transgender, non-binary and intersex persons who identify as women (girls) or men (boys).

There may be instances of data which were collected and recorded by sex. However, in recognition of the preferred Australian Government approach to collect information by gender, wherever possible, and for consistency, the terms ‘gender’, ‘women’ and ‘men’ will be used throughout.

There are also data sources that include information for those who identified as ‘X’ in data collection. This information is not shown on the visualisations for this Monitor due to small sample sizes, and this is stated on relevant pages.

View the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.

STEM definitions

The Monitor considers STEM to include the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is consistent with the approach in Australia’s STEM Workforce report (Office of the Chief Scientist 2020). The Monitor takes the Chief Scientist’s definition of STEM education fields, sourced from the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED). It then matches these to research fields from the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC).

The Monitor also uses qualifications in STEM education fields to define STEM-qualified occupations and STEM-qualified industries. The Monitor considers an occupation or industry to be STEM-qualified if the majority of people in the occupation or industry reported a qualification in a STEM field of education in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. However, the Monitor also recognises that STEM-qualified graduates work in wide range of sectors across the workforce.

This Monitor does not include health in the definition of STEM. However, health is recognised as a closely related field that people with STEM qualifications may enter. It is often included in broader definitions of STEM. The Monitor allows users to view health data in addition to STEM, so they can see the results for STEMM–science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

STEM fields of education and research

Education and research fields are defined by the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) and Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC).

Consistent with the Australian STEM Workforce report (Office of the Chief Scientist 2020), ‘STEM education fields’ at the 2-digit level, are used in the Monitor’s STEM definition.

Table 1. STEM education fields classification

Field code level

STEM education fields

01

Natural and physical sciences

02

Information technology (IT)

03

Engineering and related technologies

05

Agriculture, environment and related studies

Source: Office of the Chief Scientist (2020)


These are mapped across the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), to determine the ‘STEM research fields’ definition.

Table 2. STEM research fields classification

Division code

STEM research fields

01

Mathematical sciences

02

Physical sciences

03

Chemical sciences

04

Earth sciences

05

Environmental sciences

06

Biological sciences

07

Agricultural and veterinary sciences*

0701

Agriculture, land and farm management

0702

Animal production

0703

Crop and pasture production

0704

Fisheries sciences

0705

Forestry sciences

0706

Horticultural production

0799

Other agricultural and veterinary sciences

08

Information and computing sciences

09

Engineering

10

Technology

*Note: Agricultural and Veterinary Science are reported together at the 2-digit level, but have been split at the 4-digit level to reflect the STEM (Agricultural Sciences) and Health (Veterinary Sciences) definitions. For the purposes of this report ‘Veterinary Sciences’ are included separately with Division 11 ‘Medical and Health Sciences’, reflecting the distinction made in the Australian Standard Classification of Education.


Source: ABS (2008)

STEM-qualified occupations

STEM-qualified occupations are defined by identifying occupation classes in which the majority (more than 50%) of people in these occupations report a STEM qualification from VET or university (Table 3) in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

This method was developed with assistance from Office of the Chief Economist. Occupations are analysed using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) at a 4-digit level. Data for this analysis was sourced from the ABS (2016) Census of Population and Housing.

This same methodology has been applied to classify the roles reported in the 2020 APS Employee Census into STEM, health and non-STEM. People in senior positions may describe their role as ‘Organisation leadership’. Therefore their responses may not be captured within STEM numbers.

Table 3. Further classification of STEM-qualified occupations and industries*

Classification

Description

University STEM-qualified

≥50% of the occupation’s/industry’s working population have a university STEM qualification

VET STEM-qualified

≥50% of the occupation’s/industry’s working population have a VET STEM qualification

Mixed STEM-qualified

≥50% of the occupation’s/industry’s working population have a STEM qualification in either VET or university

*Note: Based on highest qualification stated in ABS (2016).


The ANZSCO occupation—‘Actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians’ (code 2241) was included in the STEM occupation definition, even though it was not identified based on the description in Table 3. Only 35% of the people within this occupation declared a STEM qualification as their highest qualification. (Most people in this occupation had a non-STEM-qualification–‘Management and Commerce’.) The decision was made to include this occupation class in the list of STEM occupations due to the recognition of the core STEM skills required by those in this occupation.

Table 4.1. University STEM-qualified occupation list

Code

Occupation

1332

Engineering managers

2330

Engineering professionals, nfd

2331

Chemical and materials engineers

2332

Civil engineering professionals

2333

Electrical engineers

2334

Electronics engineers

2335

Industrial, mechanical and production engineers

2336

Mining engineers

2339

Other engineering professionals

2340

Natural and physical science professionals, nfd

2341

Agricultural and forestry scientists

2342

Chemists, and food and wine scientists

2343

Environmental scientists

2344

Geologists, geophysicists and hydrogeologists

2345

Life scientists

2346

Medical laboratory scientists

2610

Business and systems analysts, and programmers, nfd

2613

Software and applications programmers

2633

Telecommunications engineering professionals

2241

Actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians


*Not identified based on Table 3 description, but included due to recognition that core STEM skills are required for this occupation.

Note: Occupations marked with ‘nfd’ (not further defined) denotes responses and occupations which are not classified into the other defined categories by the ABS.


Source: ABS (2009)

Table 4.2. Vocational Education and Training STEM-qualified occupation list

Code

Occupation

2312

Marine transport professionals

3123

Electrical engineering draftspersons and technicians

3124

Electronic engineering draftspersons and technicians

3125

Mechanical engineering draftspersons and technicians

3129

Other building and engineering technicians

3200

Automotive and engineering trades workers, nfd

3210

Automotive electricians and mechanics, nfd

3211

Automotive electricians

3212

Motor mechanics

3220

Fabrication engineering trades workers, nfd

3222

Sheetmetal trades workers

3223

Structural steel and welding trades workers

3230

Mechanical engineering trades workers, nfd

3231

Aircraft maintenance engineers

3232

Metal fitters and machinists

3233

Precision metal trades workers

3234

Toolmakers and engineering patternmakers

3240

Panelbeaters, and vehicle body builders, trimmers and painters, nfd

3241

Panelbeaters

3242

Vehicle body builders and trimmers

3243

Vehicle painters

3400

Electrotechnology and telecommunications trades workers, nfd

3411

Electricians

3421

Airconditioning and refrigeration mechanics

3422

Electrical distribution trades workers

3923

Printers

3933

Upholsterers

3941

Cabinetmakers

3991

Boat builders and shipwrights

3992

Chemical, gas, petroleum and power generation plant operators

Note: Occupations marked with ‘nfd’ (Not further defined) denotes responses and occupations which are not classified into the other defined categories by the ABS.


Source: ABS (2009)

Table 4.3. Mixed STEM-qualified occupation list

Code

Occupation

1351

ICT managers

2300

Design, engineering, science and transport professionals, nfd*

2310

Air and marine transport professionals, nfd

2311

Air transport professionals

2322

Surveyors and spatial scientists

2349

Other natural and physical science professionals

2600

ICT professionals, nfd

2611

ICT business and systems analysts

2612

Multimedia specialists and web developers

2621

Database and systems administrators, and ICT security specialists

2630

ICT network and support professionals, nfd

2631

Computer network professionals

2632

ICT support and test engineers

3100

Engineering, ICT and science technicians, nfd

3110

Agricultural, medical and science technicians, nfd

3111

Agricultural technicians

3113

Primary products inspectors

3114

Science technicians

3120

Building and engineering technicians, nfd

3122

Civil engineering draftspersons and technicians

3130

ICT and telecommunications technicians, nfd

3131

Ict support technicians

3132

Telecommunications technical specialists

3423

Electronics trades workers

3424

Telecommunications trades workers

3620

Horticultural trades workers, nfd

Note: Occupations marked with ‘nfd’ (Not further defined) denotes responses and occupations which are not classified into the other defined categories by the ABS.


Source: ABS (2009)

STEM-qualified industries

STEM-qualified industries within the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) are defined by identifying industries in which the majority (more than 50%) of people in these industries report a STEM qualification from VET or university (Table 3) in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

The ANZSIC industry of ‘Architectural, Engineering and Technical Services’ (code 692) was included in the STEM industry definition, even though it was not identified based on the description in Table 3. Only 40% of the people within this industry declared holding a STEM qualification as their highest qualification. This is due to the inclusion of the ‘Architectural Service Industry’ under this code which does not meet the definition of a STEM-qualified industry. However, there are 4-digit code industries classified under ‘Architectural, Engineering and Technical Services’ that meet the definition of STEM-qualified industries. These include:

  • 6922 Surveying and Mapping Services
  • 6923 Engineering Design and Engineering Consulting Services
  • 6925 Scientific Testing and Analysis Services

We made the decision to include ‘Architectural, Engineering and Technical Services’ in the list of STEM industries due to the recognition of the core STEM skills required, as shown by the three 4-digit industries within it.

Six ‘not further defined’ (nfd) industries were also identified through this process. Data is not collected for these and has therefore not been included in the Monitor.

Three additional industries, ‘Forestry Support Services’ (code 051), ‘Iron and Steel Forging’ (code 221) and ‘Electricity Transmission’ (code 262) also do not have data available. This is due to insufficient sample sizes of organisations within these industries that reported to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Table 5.1. Vocational education and training STEM-qualified industries list

Code

Industry

223

Metal container manufacturing

239

Other transport equipment manufacturing

941

Automotive repair and maintenance

942

Machinery and equipment repair and maintenance

692

Architectural, engineering and technical services


*Not identified based on Table 3 description, but included due to recognition that core STEM skills are required for this industry.

Source: ABS (2013)

Table 5.2. Mixed STEM-qualified industries list

Code

Industry

051

Forestry support services*

070

Oil and gas extraction

221

Iron and steel forging*

246

Specialised machinery and equipment manufacturing

249

Other machinery and equipment manufacturing

261

Electricity generation

262

Electricity transmission*

263

Electricity distribution

691

Scientific research services

700

Computer system design and related services

Source: ABS (2013)

Health fields

We include ‘health’ fields in the Monitor, but they are reported separately from STEM fields. They are recognised as fields that rely heavily on the application of STEM skills and knowledge, but do not fit within the classification of STEM as defined in the Monitor.

Health education (ASCED ‘Health’ classification–Code 06) was used to determine research fields (see Table 7) and health-qualified occupations and industries. These are defined as those where 50% or more of the workforce report a ‘Health’ (ASCED code 06) qualification in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing (see tables 6 to 9). This follows the same methodology as prescribed for STEM-qualified occupations and industries.

Where possible, health data is presented in the interactive data to enable comparison to STEM data and/or combination with STEM to present ‘STEMM’ (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) results.

It is important to note that data regarding researchers working within health or non-STEM fields of research (as defined by the Monitor) does not indicate that they do not hold STEM qualifications or are not working in a STEM occupation.

These fields report notably different demography and pathways for women. Data on women’s participation in health fields (across education, research, occupations and industries) are captured and reported on in a separate category. This is to provide evidence for, and greater understanding of, the differences and relationships between these fields and STEM fields.

Additionally, ARC includes ‘Medical and health sciences’ (Division 11) and ‘Psychology and cognitive sciences’ (Division 17) within their definition of STEM. Therefore, their data and reporting may not be comparable with collated numbers provided here.

Table 6. Health education fields classification

Code

Health education field

06

Health

Source: ABS (2001)

Table 7. Health education fields classification

Division code

STEM research fields

07

Agricultural and veterinary sciences*

0707

Veterinary sciences

11

Medical and health sciences

*Note: Agricultural and Veterinary Science are reported together at the two digit level, but have been split at the four digit level to reflect the STEM (‘Agricultural Sciences’) and Health (‘Veterinary Sciences’) definitions.


Source: ABS (2008)

Table 8.1. University health-qualified occupations

Code

Occupation

2347

Veterinarians

2511

Nutrition professionals

2512

Medical imaging professionals

2514

Optometrists and orthoptists

2515

Pharmacists

2521

Chiropractors and osteopaths

2523

Dental practitioners

2524

Occupational therapists

2525

Physiotherapists

2526

Podiatrists

2527

Audiologists and speech pathologists \ therapists

2530

Medical practitioners, nfd

2531

General practitioners and resident medical officers

2532

Anaesthetists

2533

Specialist physicians

2534

Psychiatrists

2535

Surgeons

2539

Other medical practitioners

2540

Midwifery and nursing professionals, nfd

2541

Midwives

2542

Nurse educators and researchers

2543

Nurse managers

2544

Registered nurses

Source: ABS (2009)

Table 8.2. Vocational education and training health-qualified occupations

Code

Occupation

3613

Veterinary nurses

4112

Dental hygienists, technicians and therapists

4114

Enrolled and mothercraft nurses

4116

Massage therapists

Source: ABS (2009)

Table 8.3. Mixed health-qualified occupations

Code

Occupation

2500

Health professionals, nfd

2519

Other health diagnostic and promotion professionals

2522

Complementary health therapists

4111

Ambulance officers and paramedics

4232

Dental assistants

Source: ABS (2009)

Table 9. Health-qualified industries – these were all further classified as mixed health-qualified industries

Code

Industry

697

Veterinary services

840

Hospitals

851

Medical services

853

Allied health services

859

Other health care services

Source: ABS (2013)

Data sources

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2020) ‘EQ08 – Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, August 1986 onwards’ [data table], Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, November, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003, ABS website, accessed 16 January 2021.

—— (unpublished) Women in STEM longitudinal analysis of the 2011 higher education cohort, analysis provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 22 January 2021.

ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) (2019) National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) achievement in reading writing, language conventions and numeracy: National report for 2019, ACARA, accessed 8 September 2020.

APSC (Australian Public Service Commission) (unpublished) (2020) APS employee census by type of work, gender, and classification levels, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, DESE, Australian Government, accessed 28 January 2021.

ARC (Australian Research Council) (2018) Gender and the research workforce – excellence in research for Australia (ERA) 2018, accessed 12 February 2020.

—— (unpublished) Gender outcomes: National Competitive grants Program trend data, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, ARC, accessed 12 January 2021.

DESE (Department of Education, Skills and Employment) (n.d.) ‘Enrolment and completion by gender and year and field of education by course level’ [data set], Higher Education Statistics uCube, DESE website, accessed 26 October 2020.

—— (unpublished) Research staff by field of education, duty classification and year, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, DESE, Australian Government, accessed 24 February 2021.

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) (2020) ‘VET enrolments and completions by gender and year and field of education’ [data set], DataBuilder, NCVER website, accessed 2 November 2020.

—— (2021) Total VET student outcomes 2016–2020’ [data set], VOCSTATS, NCVER website, accessed 17 February 2021.

—— (unpublished) Income data, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, NCVER, accessed 17 February 2021.

NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) (unpublished) Research funding statistics and data, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, NHMRC, accessed 7 January 2021.

OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) (2020) Mathematics performance (PISA) (indicator), doi: 10.1787/04711c74-en, accessed on 30 January 2020.

—— (2020) Reading performance (PISA) (indicator), doi: 10.1787/79913c69-en, accessed on 30 January 2020.

—— (2020) Science performance (PISA) (indicator), doi: 10.1787/91952204-en, accessed on 30 January 2020.

SRC (Social Research Centre) (2020) ‘Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) 2020 national tables’ [data set], Graduate employment, QILT (Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching) website, accessed 13 January 2021.

—— (unpublished) Skill utilisation, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Social Research Centre, accessed 4 January 2021.

YouthInsight (2021) 2020–21 STEM Influencer – Teacher and career adviser survey, report to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, YouthInsight, accessed 25 March 2021.

—— (2021) 2020–21 STEM Influencer – Parents survey, report to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, YouthInsight, accessed 25 March 2021.

—— (unpublished) 2020–21 STEM Influencer – Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander educator survey, report to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, YouthInsight, accessed 25 March 2021.

—— (2020) 2019–20 Youth in STEM survey, report to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, YouthInsight, accessed 26 March 2020.

WGEA (Workplace Gender Equality Agency) (unpublished) WGEA data 2020, data set provided to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, WGEA, Australian Government, accessed 19 January 2021.

Additional resources

These resources include explanatory notes on source data and definitions.

AAS (Australian Academy of Science) (2019) Women in STEM: Decadal plan, AAS, Australian Government, accessed 29 January 2020.

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2001) Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001, cat no. 1272.0, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 6 February 2020.

—— (2013) Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (revision 2.0), cat no. 1292.0, ABS, Australian Government, viewed 6 February 2020.

—— (2009) Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), first edition, revision 1, cat no. 1220.0, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 6 February 2020.

—— (2008) Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), cat no. 1297.0, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 6 February 2020.

—— (2016) Census of Population and Housing, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 29 October 2019.

AGD (Attorney General’s Department) (2015) Australian government guidelines on the recognition of sex and gender, AGD, Australian Government, accessed 24 September 2019.

AlphaBeta (2018) Digital innovation report: Australia’s $315b opportunity, report to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO’s) Data 61, CSIRO, Australian Government, accessed 29 January 2020.

APSC (Australian Public Service Commission) (2019) Australian public service employee census explanatory guide, APSC, Australian Government, accessed 13 January 2020.

—— (2020) APS employee census 2020 – Participant information, APSC, Australian Government, accessed 13 February 2021.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2019) Advancing women in STEM,Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government, accessed 29 January 2020.

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (2020) Advancing women in STEM: Action plan, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Government, accessed 6 December 2020.

OCS (Office of the Chief Scientist) (2020) Australia’s STEM workforce, OCS, Australian Government, accessed 6 December 2020.

—— (2016) Australia’s STEM workforce, OCS, Australian Government, accessed 29 January 2020.

SRC (Social Research Centre) (2019) Study areas, (QILT) Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website, accessed 15 December 2019.

Thomson S, De Bertoli L, Underwood C, Schmid M (2019) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018: Reporting Australia’s results, volume 1 student performance, ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research), accessed 12 December 2019.

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