This page belongs to: STEM Equity Monitor

Teachers and career advisers' perceptions and attitudes to STEM

The 2022–23 STEM Influencers Survey by YouthInsight explored perceptions and attitudes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) among educators (teachers and career advisers).

Attitudes and capability in STEM subjects

Compare STEM views among educators across demographic groups and schooling levels, including how confident they are teaching STEM.

How to read this chart

The main bars show the proportion of teachers who agree with each statement about STEM.

The diamonds show the proportion of teachers in the selected demographics who agreed.

For example, this image shows:

  • 86% of all primary school teachers have confidence in their mathematics skills for teaching STEM.
  • 88% of primary school teachers with STEM qualifications have confidence in their mathematics skills for teaching STEM, compared to 85% of those without STEM qualifications.

Data insights

Men educators across all teaching settings (primary, secondary, and tertiary) were more likely to have a STEM qualification than women educators (60%, compared to 36%). Secondary teachers of STEM subjects were more likely to have a STEM qualification than those who do not teach STEM subjects (69%, compared to 26%). Among teachers of STEM subjects across all teaching settings, 39% did not have STEM qualifications.

STEM importance

98% of all educators, irrespective of whether they teach STEM subjects or not, agreed that STEM skills are important for the Australian economy. 89% also thought these skills will help provide job security for future workers. These results have no statistically significant differences to the previous educators survey (2020–21).

Most educators saw STEM as an integrated set of skills, with all 4 STEM areas important for getting a good job. These results are similar to the 2020–21 survey outcomes.

  • 58% said technology skills are very important
  • 48% said mathematics skills are very important
  • 33% said science skills are very important
  • 22% said engineering skills are very important.

The response scale for the data above included 5 options. In order from most to least favourable, these were:

  • very important
  • somewhat important
  • neither
  • somewhat unimportant
  • not at all important.

Primary teachers placed significantly more importance on technology skills than secondary teachers (64%, compared to 50%). This was the same for mathematics skills (53% of primary teachers, compared to 42% of secondary teachers). These differences also appeared in the previous survey.

Teachers with STEM qualifications were significantly more likely to identify STEM skills as very important to getting a good job. 54% of these teachers said integrated STEM skills are very important, compared to 35% of those without STEM qualifications.

These significant differences were reflected for each individual skillset except technology. 62% of educators with STEM qualifications agreed technology skills are very important to get a good job in the future, only slightly higher than the 55% of educators without STEM qualifications who agreed. These results were consistent with the previous survey.

Confidence in teaching STEM

For educators across all teaching settings, 90% of men felt qualified to teach at least one STEM topic, compared to 83% of women. Across all teaching settings and STEM subject areas, educators felt least qualified to teach engineering, with only 30% saying they feel qualified to teach this subject.

A significantly higher proportion of women than men reported no confidence in teaching STEM subjects (16%, compared to 3%). This result may be impacted by the fact that a greater proportion of men educators in the population sample have a STEM qualification and teach STEM compared to women.

Educators with STEM qualifications were more confident teaching STEM subjects than educators without STEM qualifications. For STEM as an integrated set of skills:

  • 79% of primary teachers with STEM qualifications felt confident to teach STEM as an integrated set of skills compared to 59% without STEM qualifications.
  • 81% of secondary teachers with STEM qualifications felt confident compared to 36% without.
  • 72% of tertiary teachers with STEM qualifications felt confident compared to 32% without.

Capacity to give STEM career advice

Among those who provide career advice to students, 53% rated their ability to provide students with advice on STEM pathways as high or very high. A further 34% rated their ability as medium, while 12% rated their ability as low or very low. These results were similar across men (53% high or very high) and women educators (52% high or very high).

Educators were also asked to rate their ability to explain what different STEM careers involve. 26% of educators rated their ability to explain different STEM careers as high or very high. A higher proportion of men (44%) than women (23%) rated their ability as high or very high. Teachers with STEM qualifications (42%) were also more likely to say they can explain STEM careers than those without STEM qualifications (16%). These results may reflect the higher proportion of STEM teachers and teachers with STEM qualifications who are men.

75% of teachers felt confident connecting STEM content with real-world applications and career examples. Teachers with STEM qualifications were significantly more likely to feel confident compared to those who do not have STEM qualifications (90%, compared to 66%). A significantly higher proportion of secondary teachers (83%) felt confident making STEM connections compared to primary teachers (71%). While a higher proportion of men (84%) than women (74%) felt confident, this difference was not significant.

Gender perceptions about STEM subjects and careers

Compare gender perceptions among educators across demographic groups. Explore educator views on how engaged girls and boys are in STEM subjects and educator perceptions on how suited they are to STEM careers.

Data insights

STEM gender perceptions by subject

The survey asked whether girls or boys are more confident in a range of subjects, including STEM.

Most educators believe boys and girls are equally confident in mathematics, science and technology, but not in engineering.

  • 64% reported boys and girls were equally confident in science.
  • 58% reported boys and girls were equally confident in mathematics.
  • 56% reported boys and girls were equally confident in technology.
  • 35% reported boys and girls were equally confident in engineering.

Where educators did perceive a gendered difference in confidence, it was heavily skewed towards boys. The difference is largest in engineering, with almost two-thirds of educators (63%) thinking boys are more confident than girls.

Educators reported boys are more confident than girls in:

  • engineering – 63% believed boys are more confident, 2% believed girls are more confident
  • sport – 56% believed boys are more confident, 1% believed girls are more confident
  • technology – 42% believed boys are more confident, 2% believed girls are more confident
  • mathematics – 35% believed boys are more confident, 7% believed girls are more confident
  • science – 30% believed boys are more confident, 6% believed girls are more confident.

Educators reported girls to be more confident in:

  • social science – 42% believed girls are more confident, 5% believed boys are more confident
  • arts – 62% believed girls are more confident, 1% believed boys are more confident
  • English – 60% believed girls are more confident, 1% believed boys are more confident.

These results are similar to the 2020–21 survey outcomes.

STEM gender perceptions by career

When asked the top 3 STEM careers they recommended to students, engineering was the career educators most recommended for both boys and girls. Recommended roles were similar for boys and girls, with only these significant differences:

  • 66% of advisers recommended engineering to boys, while 49% recommended it to girls.
  • 14% of advisers recommended trades to boys, while 5% recommended it to girls.
  • Only 1% of advisers recommended research careers to boys, while 10% recommended it to girls.

When asked if jobs were more for girls or boys, educators strongly associated different genders with different jobs:

  • The top 3 jobs most associated with women were nurse, office support, and teacher. These were the same jobs as the previous survey.
  • Labourer, trade worker, and machinery operator were most associated with men.
  • Lawyer, pharmacist, and entrepreneur were the jobs with the least gender skew.

The data showed correlation between the gender associations of different jobs and the perceived importance of STEM skills to those jobs:

  • Computing or information technology jobs were associated with men and were the jobs where STEM skills were perceived as most essential.
  • Pharmacist was the only job associated with women where STEM skills were perceived as essential.
  • Nursing was markedly associated with women, with STEM skills perceived as moderately essential.

These results were consistent with the STEM influencer parent survey.

Teachers with STEM qualifications were more likely to see STEM skills as necessary for teaching compared to teachers without STEM qualifications. However, both groups saw teaching as an occupation associated with women.

About the data

The 2022–23 STEM influencer teacher and career advisers survey involved over 700 educators. It asked questions to understand how educators contribute to young people’s perceptions and attitudes to STEM. Respondents came from all Australian states and territories.

To ensure survey results represented the population, weighting corrected for under- or over-representation of sub-groups by:

  • socioeconomic deciles of the school or institution the respondent works at
  • school jurisdiction (government, Catholic and independent schools)
  • geographic representation that aligns to the population of each state or territory in Australia.

Our department commissioned YouthInsight to carry out this survey as part of the Youth in STEM research project. In 2022–23, they also surveyed parents to complement the teachers and career advisers survey. YouthInsight will conduct the Youth in STEM survey again in 2023–24.

Refer to the STEM influencer teachers and career advisers survey 2022–23 report for more detailed information and project methodology.

Read the STEM influencer teachers and career advisers survey 2020–21 report.

Read about our methodology.