This page belongs to: STEM Equity Monitor

Workforce and gender equity policies in STEM and other industries

Every year the Workforce Gender Equality Agency reports a range of gender equity indicators for organisations in all industries. This includes STEM-qualified industries.

Gender representation by industry

Compare the proportion of women and men in STEM industries, health industries and all industries, including the distribution of women and men in senior positions.

The Workforce Gender Equality Agency changed the data collection methods for senior positions in 2021, so this data is presented separately to 2016–2020 data. Two new manager categories were introduced in the 2021 census:

  • head of business
  • key management personnel/head of business.

Senior positions data for 2021 should not be directly compared to data from previous years.

Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) 2021

Data insights

In 2021, women made up 27% of the workforce across all STEM industries, 1 percentage point less than in 2020. 23% of all managers in STEM industries were women. Women also made up 78% of health workers and 51% of workers in all industries. These results were similar to 2020.

Scientific research services remained the STEM industry with the largest representation of women, despite a slight drop. Women made up 64% of its workforce, 4 percentage points less than in 2020. 52% of key management personnel and heads of business in this industry were women.

The highest proportion of women in senior STEM positions were in key management and other management roles (24%). The lowest proportion were in CEO positions. Only 8% of women across all STEM industries were in CEO positions, compared to 43% in health and 19% across all industries.

Gender equity policies and strategies by industry

See the proportion of organisations in STEM, non-STEM and health industries with gender equity strategies and policies.

Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) 2021

Data insights

In 2021, 85% of organisations in STEM industries had overall gender equality polices or strategies. This is 3 percentage points higher than 2020 and 14 percentage points higher than 2015.

88% of STEM organisations had a recruitment gender equality policy, compared to 76% in 2015.

The biggest increase was in formal policies or strategies to support employees experiencing domestic violence. 74% of STEM organisations had these policies in 2021 compared to 35% in 2015, an increase of 39 percentage points.

About the data

Industries shown above align to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC). In the STEM Equity Monitor, industries are defined as STEM industries when more than 50% of people in the industry reported a STEM qualification in the 2021 Census of Population and Housing.

This data is from non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees that reported to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). The 2020–21 WGEA dataset is slightly smaller compared to recent years due to the impacts of COVID-19, changes to the WGEA reporting platform, and changes to the way corporate group organisations report using the new platform. Data is not available for some industries due to insufficient sample sizes.

See how WGEA collects data.

Read more about our methodology and this data.