Women in STEM Decadal Plan
The Women in STEM Decadal Plan, published by the Australian Academy of Science, states that 'women make up only 16 per cent of the STEM skilled workforce'. Women make up 9 per cent of VET-qualified workers in STEM fields, and 29 per cent of university-qualified workers in STEM.
These statistics are worrying in terms of economy and innovation, quality of research, social justice and labour market balance.
The Women in STEM Decadal Plan offers an ‘attract–retain–progress’ framework for understanding the challenges women face in STEM careers.
- In its discussion of encouraging girls and women to consider STEM as a career option, the plan considers challenges such as societal norms, gender stereotyping and the pay gap.
- The statistics surrounding retention show that even in fields where women are greatly represented (50 per cent or more), these numbers drastically reduce after the mid-career stage.
- Progression relates directly to retention, and covers the challenges women face in moving to the top levels of their chosen career. The plan highlights challenges women face in the form of ‘gender-based discrimination, bullying and harassment, gendered expectations around caring responsibilities, lack of flexible work options, biased assessments of merit’ and a lack of mentoring opportunities.
Closing the gap
As career educators and professionals, it is our duty to help close the gap and to educate students, parents and other teachers about the importance of encouraging and inspiring girls to consider STEM subjects and careers. A recent report for the Office of the Chief Scientist into Australia’s fastest growing industries highlights the need to improve Australia’s STEM capability in education and work.
'STEM skills and knowledge will be key to unlocking future jobs, not only within the STEM fields but across all industries' (Deloitte 2014).
What is not always clear to students, parents and educators is that STEM skills are broadly beneficial and transferable across industries and roles that involve critical thinking and problem-solving, analytic capabilities, curiosity and imagination (PwC 2015). All these have been identified as critical ‘survival skills’ in the workplace of the future.
Opportunities across STEM
'Today’s young people are likely to change jobs 17 times across five different careers in their working lives' (FYA 2017).
The ability to make these transitions will partly depend on the skills that young people acquire at school – and on their sense of flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Given the diversity of skills young people will require to thrive in the future workforce, it is essential that we educate them about the transferability of STEM discipline skills across many different careers and opportunities.
See below for a set of resources curated specifically to assist you as a dedicated specialist providing career development education. These resources are designed for use within STEM-related career education classes, to highlight opportunity awareness and labour market information, to provide inspirational female role models, and to help students understand the broader concept of STEM as an innovative and important industry. Through these resources, career educators and specialists can start to disprove STEM stereotypes and encourage girls to view themselves as tomorrow’s leaders.
Hundreds of maths careers profiles, videos and jobs.Field: Maths
Books to inspire Girls in STEM
Lists of fiction and non-fiction books, ‘all designed to inform, inspire and entertain girls.Field: all STEM
Born to engineer
A number of featured resources including engaging and thought-provoking podcasts, news on events and masterclasses and much more.Field: Science, Engineering
C&EN (Chemical and engineering news)
An article discussing the world of work and how students might navigate potential challenges and change the status quo.Field: Science
Careers with STEM
The ‘Get career basics’ section is filled with resources to share in class and in sessions with students.Field: all STEM
Careers with STEM
A list of job options relating to careers in science.Field: Science
Careers with STEM
Profiles of impressive and inspirational Women in STEM to aid discussions relating to pathways and the nature of work.Field: all STEM
Carnegie STEM girls
A career exploration tool for individual girls.Field: all STEM
This resource has lifestyle information for many career profiles, and showcases how engineers make a difference to us all.Field: all STEM
Girls’ future – Our future: The Invergowrie Foundation STEM report
A report focusing on why many girls do not do STEM subjects at school or pursue STEM careers.Field: all STEM
Go Girl, Go for IT
An event held each year, and one that you can encourage students to go to.Field: Technology
Government Funded Courses
Government funding assists students by subsidising their tuition fees. Schemes vary from state to state, and students are required to meet eligibility requirements. This site helps check eligibility.Field: all STEM
Government of SA – Office for Women
Resources to guide students at every stage of their STEM journey, from subject selection to pathways and future careers.Field: all STEM
Gradaustralia: The STEM guide
A girls’ guide to great careers in STEM, including information on degrees, industries, Women in STEM, ‘how to get hired’ and ‘surviving and thriving’.Field: all STEM
In2science: STEM peer mentoring in schools
In2science ‘places STEM university students into high schools as peer mentors’.Field: all STEM
Monash University STEM talks
Videos of some leading scientists giving insights into the challenges and successes of cutting-edge STEM research.Field: all STEM
Optimising STEM industry–school partnerships
A paper compiled by the STEM Partnerships Forum, containing interesting research into STEM in education and work.Field: all STEM
Queensland STEM Education Network
Downloadable infographic posters for the classroom.Field: all STEM
Science and Technology Australia
Profiles of the ‘2019 Superstars of STEM’, containing many inspirational female STEM role models.Field: all STEM
A site aimed at those involved with children/students aged 4–11. Gives clear reasons for encouraging students to enjoy STEM early.Field: all STEM
Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance
Video profiles of 19 female role models and entrepreneurs from STEM fields.Field: all STEM
A resource focusing on the relevance of science and maths to students’ lives and encouraging engagement with STEM subjects.Field: all STEM
STELR – women in STEM
Nineteen video profiles of ‘female role models and entrepreneurs from STEM fields’.Field: all STEM
A site with sections including ‘STEM careers and pathways’ and ‘STEM Girl Power!'Field: all STEM
A useful case study about one woman’s fascinating and diverse career journeyField: Science
UN STEM news
United Nations news from around the world, giving Women in STEM a global focus and perspective.Field: all STEM
Your guide to STEM: The careers of the future
Statistics about the future of Australia's STEM workforce.Field: all STEM
Women you should know
Downloadable STEM role-model posters that celebrate women innovators. Illustrated by women.Field: all STEM