The federal government is investing $3.4 million to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) equity in Australia and even-out the gender disparity in STEM careers.
Federal industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews said for Australia to have the the widest talent pool possible, the government needed to ensure that Australians are supported to participate in STEM activities and careers.
“We know that STEM is the engine of technology, innovation and wealth – and gender-diverse teams are better problem solvers,” Andrews said.
“Of this funding, $1.8 million will extend the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative so higher education and research sectors can continue to improve gender equity policies and practices.”
This investment builds on the $2 million the federal government allocated to SAGE from 2016–17 to 2018–19.
“We have a vision of all eligible Australian research institutions being SAGE members, demonstrating their commitment to gender equity. Ongoing support for this initiative will help achieve this,” Andrews said.
“With the support of Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, we will also implement a $1.5 million national digital awareness raising initiative.
“We want to heighten the visibility of girls and women in STEM and showcase the diverse opportunities STEM study and careers can provide.”
The Australian Academy of Science applauded the announcement by the Morrison Government to invest $3.4 million to improve STEM equity in Australia and boost the participation of girls and women in STEM careers.
Academy President Professor John Shine said the $1.8 million commitment to extend the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) — a partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering – was particularly significant.
“SAGE is the only transformative gender equity program of its kind in Australia designed to achieve sustained change via ongoing evaluation and a national accreditation framework,” Professor Shine said.
SAGE was set up to pilot the UK’s Athena SWAN Charter and accreditation framework in Australia. Fifteen Australian institutions were recognised for their efforts to improve gender equity, receiving the inaugural Athena SWAN Bronze Awards from SAGE in December last year.
“Australia has taken a leadership role by piloting the Athena SWAN Charter program, with countries such as Canada and the United States now following our example,” Shine said.
The Academy also welcomed funding for a national digital awareness raising initiative to be supported by Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.
“Efforts to improve the visibility of girls and women in STEM and showcase the diverse career opportunities available by studying STEM are critically important,” Shine said.
“In making these announcements, Minister Andrews has recognised that supporting women’s participation in STEM has a positive economic impact.”
“Australia needs access to all its available talent regardless of who or where they are, and we must ensure everyone takes action through the Women in STEM Decadal Plan.”
The plan was developed by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and identifies opportunities to bring about the systemic changes required to achieve gender equity in STEM and calls on leaders across the STEM ecosystem to drive action to achieve this.