This page belongs to: STEM Equity Monitor

Teaching and research workforce in STEM and other fields

Two datasets show research workforce composition:

  • The Department of Education looks at teaching and research roles.

  • The Australian Research Council (ARC) covered the research workforce in 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.

2021 teaching and research workforce

See the composition of the 2021 teaching and research workforce, as reported by the Department of Education.

Source: Department of Education (unpublished) 2021

Data insights

Teaching and research workforce composition

In 2021, Department of Education data showed that 46% of university staff in teaching and research roles (by headcount) were women. However, 29% of STEM teaching and research roles were held by women.

Men outnumbered women at all academic staffing levels for STEM teaching and research roles. This compares with non-STEM teaching and research roles, where men only outnumbered women at staffing levels D and E. In health roles men only outnumbered women at level E.

The largest number of women in STEM teaching and research roles (601) were employed at academic staffing level B, while the largest number of men (1,561) were employed at level E. At level B, the number of men was almost 1.5 times the number of women. At level E, the number of men was over 4.5 times the number of women.

In engineering and related technologies, only 11% of the most senior positions (level E) were held by women in 2021. No STEM field had more than 23% of women in the highest academic positions. Agriculture, environmental and related studies was the only STEM field where the number of women at any academic staffing level was greater than the number of men at the same level.

In comparison, 59% of the research and teaching workforce in health fields were women. Health fields also had a higher proportion of women (41%) in the most senior positions. In non‑STEM fields, 49% of the workforce and 37% 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.

Data insights

Research workforce composition

In 2017, Australian Research Council data showed that women made up 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 shows 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 academic level A (most junior) to academic level E (most senior). These are standardised employment levels across all Australian universities. Position titles aligned to academic levels may vary between institutions. Because of this, our data does not include position titles when presenting academic levels.

Department of Education data

Department of Education data on this page includes those in teaching and research functions and staff levels A to 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. This means the total workforce is larger than presented.

The latest year’s staff data is an estimate based on the previous year’s student data. This will result in changes to staff counts between Monitor iterations as estimated data is adjusted to actual data. This is also the case for full time equivalent data, where estimated casual data is retrospectively updated with actual casual data each year.

ARC data

ARC’s research workforce data is from their Gender and the Research Workforce report. It shows 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.

The ARC data classifies fields of research using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) at the 2-digit and 4-digit level. This classification has 3 levels. Division is the broadest level and is classified by 2 digits. Group is a more detailed level and is classified by 4 digits.

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

Read more about our methodology and this data.