STEMM - WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN?
Now more than ever, STEMM is critical in tackling global climate and health crises.
Yet in Australia, women only make up 27% of the STEMM workforce. Excluding medical fields, the rates of women’s participation fall even lower – in 2020, 87% of STEM-qualified jobs were held by men.
Although 50% of phD graduates are women, they only make up 20% of senior roles in STEMM. These figures are in line with the rest of the world where approximately only 30% of researchers are women globally.
Women are lost at every stage of the professional ladder in STEMM. Some have even referred to STEMM’s failure to retain women as a ‘leaky pipeline’. Not everyone is happy with the leaky pipeline analogy, but there is unequivocal evidence to show that the loss of women in STEMM is due to bias; workplaces practices; sexual harassment and more.
Women in STEMM are paid less than their male counterparts and women of colour and those who belong to minority groups experience additional barriers. Although efforts have been made for decades to encourage more girls into STEMM, the barriers they face once they reach the workplace are still a challenge.
This is not just an issue for women, it’s an issue for all of us. STEMM is central to innovation, health and economic growth, and increasing diversity of all kinds in STEMM leads to better economic outcomes.
Seeing STEMM become more inclusive and diverse is vital, and as it is a complex problem its solution is multi-faceted. The Australian Government has recognised the economic and social benefits to be gained by making STEMM more inclusive and is now measuring the country’s progress.
For more on what is being done in Australia and goals to reach see the Women in STEM Decadal Plan.