Over a third of women in science, technology, engineering and maths professions said they did not believe their employer had strategies in place to actually implement policies relating to diversity and anti-discrimination, and over 53 per cent of employers have no such policies in place, according to a new report by Professionals Australia.
All Talk – the 2018 Women in the STEM Professions Survey Report, released today, indicates the gap between policy and practice is a major obstacle to gender equity in STEM.
“We must do more to get the policies in place to address career barriers for women in STEM professions,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.
“Over a third of professional women in the 25 to 35 age group were considering leaving their roles in the next five years and they cited lack of career advancement as their main motivator. These are issues employers can, and must, take steps to address.
“We cannot build a knowledge economy where women are underrepresented in engineering, science and IT. Women make up 16 per cent of Australia’s qualified STEM workforce and we must
take steps to decrease that differential, rather than allow it to widen. Our global competitiveness depends on it.
“Fixing the gender pay gap is the first step. While there is some evidence that women in maledominated professions can earn less than their male counterparts with equivalent experience, the underrepresentation of women at senior, management and leadership levels and the concentration of women in less senior roles is what entrenches systemic gender bias in STEM workplaces. Bias in career-building activities and lack of flexibility and part-time work available at senior levels were key contributing factors. 17 per cent of survey respondents said their employer rarely or never
proactively ensured the men and women had equal opportunity to progress.
“Women still face gender-based discrimination and harassment in their workplaces. A staggering fifty one per cent of respondents reported having been directly discriminated against during the
course of their employment on the basis of gender. 27 per cent had been sexually harassed, mostly in the early stages of their careers.
“Workplace culture is a big contributor. Almost sixty per cent of women said, for example, that women are required to prove themselves where men are automatically assumed capable. Almost
40 per cent agreed that in their workplace, advice of a technical nature was less likely to be listened to when provided by a woman.
“Research shows 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills and Australian employers report experiencing difficulties recruiting STEM-qualified graduates and staff.
“So addressing the issues raised in this report is not only a matter of justice and equity – fully realising Australia’s productivity potential and innovative capability into the future depends on
getting appropriate policies in place and ensuring strategies are developed to properly implement the policies. We need to develop a sustainable STEM skills pipeline for the future and that will rely on being able to effectively attract, develop and retain women in the STEM workforce,” said Mr Walton.
For copy of the full report click here.