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Second national data report on girls and women in STEM

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3 May 2021

The STEM Equity Monitor 2021, a national data report on girls’ and women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), is now available.

This is the second edition.

The Monitor reports the current state of STEM gender equity in Australia, and measures changes and trends. It explores the pathway of girls’ and women’s participation in STEM through schooling, higher education, graduate outcomes and the workforce.

This year’s edition collects and integrates data from a wider range of sources, bringing them together in one place. For the first time we include longtitudinal data looking at the career transitions of women who graduate with STEM qualifications. We also look at how parents, teachers and career advisers perceive STEM, as the key influencers of young people’s study and career aspirations.

The 2021 Monitor shows some real improvements for girls and women’s representation and participation in STEM study and careers:

  • Since 2015, the proportion of women enrolled in university STEM fields of education (undergraduate and postgraduate) increased by 2 percentage points. This reached 36% in 2019 (more than 81,000 women), up from 34% in 2015 (70,000 women).
  • The proportion of women working across all STEM-qualified industries has continually increased from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2020.
  • The proportion of key management personnel and senior managers who are women has also continuously increased from 18% in 2016 to 23% in 2020.

These improvements show that the collective efforts being led by the education, research and business sectors, as well as by government, are starting to have an impact. But significantly more change is needed to achieve our joint vision for gender equity in STEM in Australia by 2030.

Some key takeaways from this edition:

  • Women made up less than a quarter of students studying STEM in 2019 (22% of enrolments and 24% of completions of total STEM VET and university enrolments).
  • Five years after graduating, men with a STEM qualification were 1.8 times more likely to be working in a STEM-qualified occupation compared to their women peers.
  • The majority of parents agreed that a STEM-skilled workforce is important for the Australian economy (90%).
  • They also agreed that mathematics (89%) and technology skills (89%) are important for futureemployment.
  • Having weekly conversations about STEM at home was more common among fathers (51%) compared to mothers (38%). They were also more common among parents of boys compared to parents of girls (47% for boys, 42% for girls).
  • Fathers are more than twice as likely to have a STEM qualification as mothers (47% of fathers, 20% of mothers).
  • There is a significant gender pay gap between qualified men and women working in STEM. The gender pay gap in STEM-qualified industries was $28,994 in 2020 compared to $25,534 across all industries.

The Monitor tells an evolving story. We publish new data annually to provide a consistent evidence base over 10 years.

We are also beginning to integrate an intersectional approach to data compiled in the STEM Equity Monitor. This will help us better understand the complex and unique barriers that women of different backgrounds and experiences face when entering or progressing through STEM pathways. This information can help government and the sector target our investment and actions to support greater diversity in STEM.

Read the highlights report or explore the interactive data

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Email STEM@industry.gov.au