STEM Equity Monitor Report, Australian Government

A workforce with strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills is essential if we’re to keep the Australian economy growing. However, Australian girls and women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM education and careers, particularly in fields like information technology and engineering. Australia must address this inequity if we are to take full advantage of future opportunities provided by STEM-driven industries and a more global and digital economy.

Increasing the participation of girls and women in STEM requires a system-level response with long-term strategic action from across all areas — government, industry, academia and education. We need to drive cultural change and remove systemic barriers that continue to prevent girls and women from fully participating in STEM education and workplaces.

The STEM Equity Monitor (the Monitor) is a national data report on girls’ and women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It presents the current state of STEM gender equity in Australia. It also provides a baseline for measuring change and trends over time in key sectors and career phases of girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM

What proportion of women in higher education study STEM courses?

Women are enrolling in STEM higher education at much lower levels than men, in both university and VET studies. When considering university and VET enrolments together, only 9% of women participating in higher education enrolled in a STEM course in 2018. This proportion has remained largely consistent since 2015.

How do STEM and non-STEM enrolments and completions in university and VET courses compare?

When considering university and VET together, in 2018 women comprised only 21% of total STEM course enrolments and 23% of total STEM course completions. In comparison, women comprised 60% of total non-STEM course enrolments and 61% of total non-STEM course completions in 2018.

At university, women comprised 35% of STEM course enrolments and 37% of STEM course completions in 2018. In contrast, women comprised 64% of students in non-STEM university course enrolments and completions.

In 2018, participation of women in STEM VET courses was particularly low — only 15% of enrolments and 19% of completions. Similar to non-STEM university participation, women comprised more than half of students in non-STEM VET course enrolments and completions in the same year.

This is an excerpt from the ‘STEM Equity Monitor Report 2020’