A workforce with strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills is essential if we’re to keep the Australian economy growing. Digital innovation alone can potentially deliver $315 billion in gross economic value to Australia in the next 10 years.
However, Australian girls and women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM education and careers, particularly in fields like information technology and engineering. Australia must address this inequity if we are to take full advantage of future opportunities provided by STEM-driven industries and a more global and digital economy.
Increasing the participation of girls and women in STEM requires a system-level response with long-term strategic action from across all areas — government, industry, academia and education. We need to drive cultural change and remove systemic barriers that continue to prevent girls and women from fully participating in STEM education and workplaces.
The Australian Government is committed to action. In 2019 we released the Advancing Women in STEM strategy and supported the development of the Women in STEM Decadal Plan.
These documents set out a guiding framework for the government and the STEM sector to work together for sustained increases in women’s STEM participation and retention — through early childhood, education and careers.
In the development of these frameworks, the STEM sector highlighted the need for better data to track the impacts of our collective efforts. The government has responded by committing to develop a consistent evidence base over the ten years of the Women in STEM Decadal Plan. This consolidation of data on girls’ and women’s participation in, and engagement with STEM will help policymakers and the STEM sector support programs that target ages, career stages and sectors where girls and women continue to remain underrepresented.
It is my pleasure to present the STEM Equity Monitor — an annual report on our progress towards achieving our vision of an Australian society that provides equal opportunity for all people to learn, work and engage in STEM.