Canberra hands over AU$6.7m in additional support to STEM initiatives

The Australian government has thrown an additional AU$6.7 million to bolster efforts around advancing women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Of the total additional amount, the government will invest AU$2 million in the Superstars of STEM program, delivered by Science and Technology Australia, allowing an additional 120 women to join

The Women in STEM Ambassador initiative will be handed AU$2.4 million, while the remaining AU$2.3 million will be used to expand the Future You campaign, a national digital awareness-raising initiative aimed at 8 to 12 years old children and their parents.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the funding would further help girls and women studying STEM subjects and working in those related fields.

“Supporting girls and women with opportunities to excel in these areas is not only an important issue of equity, but it bolsters the pool of available STEM-skilled workers,” she said.

“This additional funding will continue to address structural and cultural biases that lead to the under-representation of women and girls in STEM, through amazing programs like the Superstars of STEM. 

“The new investment also recognises the work of the Women in STEM ambassador and the Future You campaign in encouraging women and girls to consider STEM subjects and careers.”

The additional investment builds on the AU$147 million the government said it has already invested in supporting gender equity in STEM.

Last year’s annual STEM Equity Monitor showed that women’s participation in STEM compared to male counterparts remain dire, however.

The 2021 edition of the monitor showed that the number of women in STEM-qualified occupations decreased by 1% from 14% in 2019 to 13% in 2020, while men in STEM-qualified occupations increased by 1% during the same period from 86% to 87%.

At the same time, the monitor showed the gender pay gap between men and women working in STEM also remained significant, but steady at 19%. In dollar terms, the gender pay gap was AU$29,000 in 2020 versus AU$26,000 across all industries.

The monitor also looked at the career transitions of women who graduated with STEM qualifications. It showed five years after graduating, men with a STEM qualification were 1.8 times more likely to be working in a STEM-qualified occupation compared to their women peers.

The monitor was launched in 2020 under the federal government’s plan plans to lift women participation in STEM. Annual findings will be provided for a 10-year period until 2029.

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