Urgently need more women and people from diverse backgrounds in STEM careers

Increasing diversity and inclusion is an integral step towards growing a STEM skilled workforce that will help build a future made in Australia.

A new report recommends new pathways to get more women and people from diverse backgrounds into STEM careers in Australia.

The report entitled ‘Pathway to Diversity in STEM‘ observes that Australia has an urgent need to boost its STEM workforce to take advantage of opportunities in sectors like renewable energy, critical minerals, and quantum.

Image: Ed Husic (Source: ALP)

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said in a statement:

“We need more people skilled-up to make the most of the opportunities in the growing science and technology jobs market. My sincere thanks to the Pathway Diversity in STEM Review Panel for their hard work and to the hundreds of Australians who shared their reflections and ideas about Australia’s STEM landscape.”

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Minister Husic thanked Panel chair Sally-Ann Williams and Panel members Mikaela Jade and Parwinder Kaur for their efforts to prepare the report and welcomed the opportunity to engage further on the recommendations.

Image: Prof. Dipti Talaulikar (Source: Supplied)

Dr Dipti Talaulikar, award-winning Professor and Haematologist at the Australian National University says Australia needs more skilled migrants in STEM.

“Skilled migrants bring unique strenths and expertise to our STEM workforce. Our country will be stronger if we can respect diversity instead of being fearful of it.”

Image: Dr Ekta Sharma (Source: Supplied)

Dr Ekta Sharma, VC Fellow for Women in STEMM at the University of Southern Queensland, agrees and adds that Australia possesses great potential to contribute to the global community through our STEM workforce.

“There is an immediate need for a larger pool of well-qualified professionals to capitalise on
the numerous opportunities available in the growing science and technology job market. These reports detail innovative approaches that can help increase the participation of women and individuals from diverse backgrounds in STEM careers.”

The independent Diversity in STEM Review Panel has made 11 detailed recommendations, based on 12 months of public consultation, conversations, and research.  

Increasing diversity and inclusion is an integral step towards growing a STEM-skilled workforce that will help build a future made in Australia.

It will also help the Albanese Government’s target to 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030.

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The Review Panel’s recommendations aim to create structural and cultural change within Australia’s STEM system to support greater diversity and inclusion.

The independent Review Panel’s recommendations include: 

  • establishing a dedicated advisory council to guide government and mobilise change.
  • changing grant and procurement processes for STEM-related programs.  
  • enhancing the current Women in STEM program suite and establishing programs for other cohorts underrepresented in STEM education and jobs.

The Panel heard from around 385 individuals and 94 organisations through conversations, interviews and workshops, and received 300 written submissions. 

The Review Panel’s recommendations were also informed by key research reports including the STEM Career Pathways report for the National Science and Technology Council, which is also released today. It was prepared by Science and Technology Australia.

The STEM Career Pathway report identifies barriers to STEM careers and ways which could build the workforce. These include:

  • Opportunities for better coordination between university and vocational sectors, improved access to work-based placements, and micro-credential training to upskill existing workers.
  • Better engagement of skilled migrants and international graduates on post-study work visas by increasing employer understanding of overseas qualifications and graduates’ post-study work rights.

The Government will now consider the recommendations presented in the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review report.

The Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review Panel’s final recommendations can be found here: industry.gov.au/diversityinstemreport  

The STEM Career Pathway report can be found here: www.chiefscientist.gov.au/STEM-CareerPathways 

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