Experts say Australia has not yet made the systemic changes required to achieve diversity in STEM.

The new Women in STEM Decadal Plan says the current under-representation and under-utilisation of women in the STEM workforce posing a threat to Australia’s prosperity.

The plan - developed by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering - outlines six opportunities to strengthen gender equity in STEM in Australia over the next 10 years.

The opportunities are as follows;

1.     Leadership - stronger cohesion and leadership across the STEM ecosystem across Australia would amplify and strengthen diversity outcomes

2.     Evaluation - Establishing a national evaluation framework will guide decision making and drive investment and effort into measures that work

3.     Workplace culture - a significant cultural shift in workplaces is necessary to create gender equity for women in STEM. A culture that is inclusive and respectful, challenges traditional stereotypes, is free of discrimination and bias, enables flexibility and accommodates career interruptions would maximise women’s participation in the workforce

4.     Visibility - continually seeing women in diverse STEM careers, and equally represented in the media, in public events, and in non-public facing forums like boardrooms and classrooms would provide role models for girls and women and inspire a nation

5.     Education - strengthening the education system to support teaching and learning at a national scale would enable and encourage all girls and women at all levels to study STEM subjects and equip them with the skills and knowledge to participate in diverse STEM careers

6.     Industry action - establishing a national framework that guides and provides tools to address gender diversity amongst SMEs would reach and impact the vast majority of businesses not reached by existing programs

Against each opportunity are strategic recommendations that government, academia, industry, the education sector and the community can individually and collectively customise to their sectors.

The decadal plan was announced in the 2018–19 Federal Budget and was developed through research and consultation covering every state and territory, involving written submissions, stakeholder interviews and roundtable discussions.

It was overseen by an Expert Working Group comprising Fellows of both academies, early- and mid-career researchers, education experts and Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador.