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10-year plan for women in STEM

Work is commencing on a key Budget initiative, with the Australian Academy of Science beginning to develop a 10-year plan on behalf of the Australian Government to increase the engagement and participation of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said the plan, announced by the Government in the 2018-19 Budget and to be developed by the sector, would be a roadmap to create gender equity for STEM.

“Getting more girls and women studying and working in STEM is a priority for the Government. We made an investment in the Budget and this consultation is an important step,” Andrews said.

“As the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and a mechanical engineer – one of the first two female graduates from the Queensland University of Technology – I am passionate about this issue.

“Increasing participation in STEM by girls and women isn’t just about equity and individual opportunity: it is about the strength of Australia’s research and our scientific and business capability.

“The Australian Government announced the 10-year plan in the 2018-19 Budget – one of a suite of new measures and $4.5 million in new funding to encourage more women to pursue STEM education and careers. This funding builds on previous investments made through the National Innovation and Science Agenda of $13 million.”

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations and Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, said there are many talented women already working or studying in STEM careers and there are great opportunities to boost women in STEM.

“2018 Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons, demonstrates just what can be achieved by women in STEM,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“STEM skills are critical to future jobs and to Australia’s ongoing prosperity. We can’t compete with countries around the world with one hand tied behind our backs – we need all Australians to have the same opportunities to study and work in STEM related careers.

“We are developing this plan and funding new initiatives to address the underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM in schools, universities and the workplace.”

Dates and venues for consultation workshops can be found here. The discussion paper can be found here.
On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Academy of Science is consulting to develop a 10-year plan to boost women in STEM.
The decadal plan is an initiative from the 2018-19 Budget.
Encouraging more women to pursue studies and career in STEM fields is a government priority backed by funding and a commitment to work with the sector.

On the back of that announcement, the Australian Academy of Science is calling for nation-wide views on the barriers and enablers that affect participation, retention and success of women and girls in  STEM.

Feedback on the Academy’s discussion paper will be part of the  10-year roadmap mentioned in the Budget.

Australian Academy of Science chief executive, Anna-Maria Arabia, said women are lost at every stage as they seek to advance their career in STEM fields, due to a range of factors including stereotypes, discrimination and workplace culture and structure, some of which manifest from the early school years.

“We have seen the social and economic benefits of gender equity; however, Australia still has a long way to go as a nation to achieve equity in opportunities for girls and women to pursue STEM education and careers.

“This 10-year roadmap will give the nation a pathway to achieving success in this area.  Input from individuals and organisations across Australia is critical to ensure its success, and we encourage governments, research, industry, the not for profit sector and the media to participate,” Ms Arabia said.

The expected outcomes of the Women in STEM 10-year roadmap are:

  • sustained improvements in gender equity in STEM;
  • increased opportunity for women and girls to gain STEM skills and participate in STEM careers; and
  • increased benefits to business and society from increased access to STEM skills and a diverse workforce.
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