The Australian Academy of Science says the results of the latest STEM Equity Monitor reinforce the need for stronger action to remove barriers preventing gender equity and greater diversity in STEM.
Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish welcomed the report and said it highlighted the importance of robust and ongoing data collection and evaluation to inform decision-making.
“The report shows a modest increase in women’s workforce participation and enrolments in university STEM courses, which is great to see,” Professor Jagadish said.
“However, it’s concerning to see that girls’ confidence in all STEM subjects falls as they get older and that girls are more likely than boys to list lack of interest as a barrier to studying STEM.
“We must do more to create a more accountable STEM ecosystem that enables the attraction, retention and progression of diverse communities in STEM.
“If we wish to see greater diversity at senior levels in STEM professions, we must take actions that are evidence informed. The STEM Equity monitor is a valuable tool to guide decision-making and to drive investment into measures that work.
“As the Academy’s ten-year Plan for Women in STEM made clear, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
“The Women in STEM Decadal Plan shows that evaluating programs and activities is critically important so proven measures can be taken to achieve equity in STEM,” Professor Jagadish said.
The STEM Equity monitor is a valuable tool to guide decision-making and to drive investment into measures that work.
“To break down persistent barriers faced by under-represented communities, the STEM ecosystem – government, academia, educators and industry – needs to push in the same direction and harness the opportunities in the Women in STEM Decadal Plan so as to reach gender equity by 2030.
“The Academy’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champions are an excellent example of the impact of collective action from industry and leading practice employers who are committed to addressing gender equity within the decade,” he said.
The Academy applauds the development of an evidence-based evaluation framework by the Women in STEM Ambassador Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, and improved data collection, monitoring and reporting by the Australian Government.
Earlier this month, the Academy welcomed the announcement by Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic to review how existing government programs can be reformed to support greater diversity in Australia’s science and technology sectors.
“Demand for STEM skills will continue to grow, so Australia can ill afford to under-utilise all of the nation’s available talent.
“We welcome a widening of the national discourse to boost participation of other under-represented groups including gender diverse people, First Nations people, culturally and ethnically diverse, mature workers, LGTBQIA+, and those living with disability, amongst others,” Professor Jagadish said.
In 2022, the Academy achieved 50/50 between men and women in the annual election of new Fellows. The Academy is taking an evidence-based approach to better understand and remove barriers experienced by under-represented groups and to support emerging STEM professionals.