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STEM plays an important part in the Australian Public Service (APS), across a broad variety of STEM and non‑STEM roles. Critical thinking and problem solving skills provided by a STEM education help ensure government policy, programs and research are evidence‑based.

The annual APS employee census provides data on workforce composition, including people working in STEM roles.

Explore interactive data and insights on this page:

2020 workforce by role

Compare numbers of women and men working in the APS in STEM roles, non-STEM roles and health roles in 2020, and their employment level

Source: Australian Public Service Commission unpublished

Data insights

In 2020, 12% of APS census respondents reported doing a STEM role (digital, engineering and technical, information and communications technology, and science) as their main type of work.

Of these 12% in STEM roles, 33% were women. In comparison, women comprised 65% of those in non-STEM roles, and 79% in health roles.

The proportion of women respondents working in STEM roles at an executive level was less than 34%. Of women respondents in STEM roles, 1.4% work at the most senior levels (Senior Executive Service). This is the same proportion as men in STEM roles. Comparatively, 2% of women and 4% of men in non-STEM roles were at the most senior levels.

The largest number of women in STEM roles was at the APS 5‑6 level (1874 women, or 46%). This was just above proportions of men in STEM roles at APS 5-6 level (44.1%) and Executive Levels 1-2 (44.6%).

2019 workforce by education field

Compare numbers of women and men with STEM qualifications working in the APS in 2019, and their employment level.

Source: Australian Public Service Commission unpublished

Data insights

In 2019, the APS Census reported the higher education qualification of APS census respondents. This data was not available for 2020.

In 2019, 21% of respondents reported a STEM field as the main focus of their qualification and 34% of these respondents were women. Women’s representation was highest at the Graduate APS level, where they represented 41% of STEM qualified graduates. It was lowest at the Executive Level 2 (26%).

Of STEM-qualified women respondents, 2% were at the most senior levels, compared to 3% of non‑STEM-qualified women. The largest number was at the APS 5‑6 level (2135, or 35%).

About the data

The APS employee census is an annual voluntary survey administered to all eligible APS employees. The data included for the APS are self-reported and reflect the actual classifications respondents held at the time of the survey, rather than their substantive classification level. 

In 2020, the census asked respondents to best describe the type of work report they do. We defined whether these roles were STEM, health and non-STEM, based on our methodology. People in senior positions may describe their role as ‘Organisation leadership’. Therefore their responses would not be captured within STEM.

In 2019, the census asked respondents about the main focus of their higher education qualification (university and VET). In 2020, the survey didn’t ask this question. The 2019 interactive data above only includes APS employees who reported having a higher education qualification.

In 2020, 108,085 APS employees responded, representing 78% of the eligible APS workforce. In 2019, 104,471 APS employees responded (77% of the eligible workforce).

Access the APSC 2019 employee census explanatory guide

Read more about our methodology and this data

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