The gender pay gap persists across all STEM industries as women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions, according to the latest edition of the federal government’s STEM Equity Monitor.
In 2021, women across all STEM industries earned an average of 18% ($26,784) less than men. This is an improvement from the previous year, when the gender pay gap was 19% ($28,994). The gender pay gap in STEM in 2021 was proportionally lower than the 20% gap across all industries, but it is $1,052 higher because STEM jobs pay a higher overall average income.
Of the 12 STEM-qualified industries, only four had higher than average gender pay gaps in 2021. In 2020, six of the STEM-qualified industries had a higher than average gender pay gap.
Women make up 23% of people in leadership roles and just 8% of CEOs in STEM-qualified industries. Across all industries, women make up 19% of business leaders. The STEM Equity Monitor can be accessed here.
Data from the STEM Equity Monitor is released annually in the decade from 2020. This year’s release follows the launch of a review of government STEM programs to ensure they promote gender diversity . Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said there was still work to be done to ensure equal opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups.
“We know that women remain chronically underrepresented in STEM and First Nations participation is much lower. That is why the government has announced a review to determine how curricula can be reformed to support greater diversity,” Husic said.
“Data from the STEM Equity Monitor adds vital information to tell the story of where we are now. They underscore the importance of why a renewed effort is needed to remove structural barriers to meet growing demand. of workers in the technology and science sectors.
Women are particularly underrepresented in enrollment in engineering and computer science courses, at 18 and 20 percent respectively. However, the proportion of information technology completions by women increased by 3 percentage points between 2019 and 2020.
Despite persistent disparities, increasing numbers of women are entering the STEM workforce and university studies. The proportion of women in STEM vocational education and training remained unchanged in 2020 at 16%.
Between 2020 and 2021, the proportion of women in skilled STEM jobs increased by 2 percentage points to 15%. Moreover, the number of enrollments in university STEM courses also increased by 3 percentage points to 37% between 2015 and 2020.
Women have higher STEM college course completion rates than men. However, in 2016, skilled men were 1.8 times more likely than skilled women to be in skilled STEM employment.
The Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, has urged the government to roll out evidence-based solutions to achieve gender parity. She acknowledged that the government’s ongoing review of its STEM programs is a commitment to evidence-based solutions.
“Rather than the usual public relations campaigns and cupcake drives, we need to invest in evidence-based solutions to address systemic issues affecting people facing discrimination in the workplace. Nothing less than strong, decisive and coordinated action by governments and the business sector will change this pattern,” Professor Harvey-Smith said.
“The key to diversifying STEM workplaces is respect – and reducing the power gaps that appear along gender, culture and other lines. Greater respect for each person will build a stronger and more cohesive, ready to meet future challenges.
The chief executive of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Kylie Walker, acknowledged the “positive rise” in the proportion of women studying STEM, but noted that systemic and cultural biases persist.
“The 2022 STEM Equity Monitor highlights the persistent leaky pipeline, where women are graduating from STEM studies at higher rates than before, but there is a major exodus as they pursue non- STEM at higher rates than men,” Ms Walker said.
“The Monitor also reveals that the gender pay gap – already higher in STEM than in the wider Australian economy – has tripled for those with postgraduate engineering degrees. This is alarming. Against the backdrop of a severe and growing engineering skills shortage, it is vital that Australia increases, rather than loses, its engineering workforce.
Science and Technology Australia chief Misha Schubert said the data revealed the twin challenges of the need to increase STEM training and education opportunities for women while ensuring they receive support to achieve leadership roles.
“After a decade of concerted effort to encourage more girls and young women to study STEM, we are starting to see real progress now with many more women earning STEM degrees,” Ms Schubert said.
“This is hugely important in helping transform who sees themselves pursuing a career in STEM and changing parental expectations that young women would choose science, math, engineering and technology degrees.”
“The next urgent challenge is to make deeper efforts to address the gender pay gap for women in STEM and to propel many more women into leadership and leadership positions within the workforce. STEM workforce STEM employers have a heavy responsibility here.
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