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Two datasets show research workforce composition:

  • Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) looks at ‘teaching and research’ roles
  • Australian Research Council (ARC) covers the research workforce from their 2018 Gender and the Research Workforce report

Each organisation collected and reported data at different times and in different ways, so they are not comparable.

Explore interactive data and insights on this page:

2020 teaching and research workforce

See the composition of the 2020 ‘teaching and research’ workforce, as reported by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.


Source: Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) unpublished


Data insights

Teaching and research workforce composition

In 2020, Department of Education, Skills and Employment data showed that 46% of university staff in ‘teaching and research’ roles were women (by headcount). However, women filled only 28% of STEM teaching and research roles, with no change from 2019.

While some STEM fields in this dataset had more balanced representation of women and men at junior levels, representation of women at senior levels was low across STEM fields. For STEM overall, women comprise 18% of the most senior positions (Level E – Professor).

In ‘Engineering and related technologies’, only 11% of the most senior positions were held by women in 2020. Although other subject areas fared better, no STEM field had more than 22% in the highest positions.

In comparison, in health fields 59% of the research and teaching workforce were women. They also had a higher proportion of women (40%) in the most senior positions. In non‑STEM fields, 49% of this workforce and 36% of the most senior positions were women.

2017 research workforce

See the composition of the 2017 research workforce, as reported by the Australian Research Council.


Source: Australian Research Council 2018


Data insights

Research workforce composition

In 2017, Australian Research Council data showed that women comprised 44% of the university research workforce in Australia (by headcount). But only 29% of people working in STEM fields in universities were women.

This data also show that while some STEM fields had more balanced representation of women and men at junior levels, representation of women at senior levels was extremely low across STEM fields. In 2017, women comprised only 12% of the most senior positions (by headcount). This included:

  • 8% in Engineering
  • 9% in Earth sciences
  • 9% in Mathematical sciences

Representation was also low in the broader research workforce, with women occupying only 25% of the highest positions across all fields in 2017.

About the data

The university research workforce encompasses people who work in higher education settings. They are classified from level A (most junior) to E (most senior).

DESE data on this page includes those in ‘Teaching and research’ functions and those in staff levels A–E only. It shows headcount and full-time equivalent, by gender, for fields of education at the 2-digit level under the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED). ‘Research only’ staff are not captured because they are not assigned to any ‘field of education’. Therefore the total workforce is larger than presented.

ARC’s research workforce data is from their Gender and the Research Workforce report. Their data show staff headcount (all employees, including those working on a casual and part-time basis) and the full-time equivalent number of staff. This dataset also shows non‑academic staff. This data uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) at the 2- and 4-digit level.

We have not updated this data since the 2020 STEM Equity Monitor. Updates will follow data collection for the next ARC Gender and the Workforce report.

Read more about our methodology and this data

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