This page belongs to: STEM Equity Monitor

Occupation and industry outcomes for graduates of STEM and other fields

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data follows a cohort of 161,000 people who graduated with a university qualification in 2011. Data shows the occupation and industry outcomes for the cohort over 5 years.

Graduate occupation paths

Compare the 2016 occupation outcomes of 2011 university graduates via interactive pathways.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 (unpublished)

Data insights

STEM-qualified occupations

In 2011 approximately 161,000 people graduated with a university qualification (61% were women). 16% of the 2011 graduates received a STEM qualification. Women comprised 38% of these STEM graduates.

Of this cohort, a greater proportion of women completed qualifications in:

  • natural and physical sciences
  • agriculture, environment and related studies.

A greater proportion of men completed qualifications in:

  • engineering and related fields
  • information technology.

Graduate occupation and industry outcomes

Compare the occupation and industry of 2011 STEM graduates in detail, including their occupation between 2011 and 2016. Note this visual is not interactive.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 (unpublished)

Data insights

STEM-qualified occupations (detailed)

By 2016, men with a STEM qualification were 1.8 times more likely than women to be working in a STEM-qualified occupation (57% of men, compared to 32% of women).

The largest proportions of women were:

  • environmental scientists (408, or 20%)
  • life scientists (291, or 14%)
  • medical laboratory scientists (273, or 13%).

The largest proportions of men were:

  • civil engineering professionals (1259, or 23%)
  • software and application programmers (823, or 15%)
  • industrial, mechanical and production engineers (774, or 14%).

STEM-qualified industries

Looking at industry, only 1 in 10 women (9.7%) with a STEM qualification worked in a STEM-qualified industry in 2016. By comparison, just over 1 in 5 men (21%) with a STEM qualification were in a STEM-qualified industry in 2016.

The STEM industry where the highest proportion of both women and men STEM graduates worked was architectural, engineering and technical services (43% of women, 43% of men).

About the data

The occupations and industries on this page use definitions based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

Our department commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to undertake this longitudinal study.

The ABS examined the occupational outcomes of the 2011 cohort of university graduates for the following 5 years through to 2016. To do this, the ABS analysed the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) Modular Product (2011–2016), which is a linked dataset providing anonymised and aggregated analysis of the following:

  • 2011 higher education data
  • 2016 Census of Population and Housing data
  • 2010–11 to 2015–16 personal income tax data.

This allowed the ABS to determine income, occupation and industry details through the years from 2011 until 2016. For each chosen variable of analysis, the outcomes have been explored using one of these datasets. Linkage of datasets is based on the data quality for the particular variable and highest level of linked records with the 2011 higher education data. This may have resulted in differences in total numbers and proportions reported.

We have grouped the qualifications and occupations broadly into STEM, non-STEM and health, and used further granular details for analysis where possible. All definitions of education, occupation and industry are consistent with our methodology.

This analysis covers the initial 5 years of graduates’ careers. We will publish further analysis following the 2021 and 2026 censuses to understand how the cohort of 2011 graduates’ careers progress.

Read about the ABS’s Multi-Agency Data Integration Project

Read more about our methodology.