Following the University of Technology Sydney’s decision to adjust ATAR entry scores for women entering engineering, IT, and construction courses – Canberrans have called for greater efforts from the education sector to encourage more women to embark on STEM careers.
A Canberra Times article found that in 2019, the University of Canberra’s engineering degrees retain female population of 10%. At the Australian National University, females represented 24% of the population.
Measures such as reducing the entry scores are critical to developing a sustainable STEM workforce a building STEM capacity for the future.
“We would encourage all universities to develop proactive strategies to address the chronic under-representation of women in universities and those measures should include reducing the ATAR score, while not reducing graduation standards,” said Chris Walton CEO.
However, numerical parity is only one half of the solution – we need to address the barriers that affect women once they enter the STEM workforce. While receiving their STEM qualification is a small hurdle to jump, our report, All Talk, found women face several workplace practices and culture that entrench bias and impede on their careers such as;
During their employment, 17% of respondents said their employer rarely or never proactively ensured the men and women had equal opportunity for career progression.
Discrimination and harassment
51% of respondents reported having been directly discriminated against during their employment based on gender while 27% had been sexually harassed, mostly in the early stages of their careers.
Almost 60% of women said they were required to prove themselves while 40% agreed that in their workplace, advice of a technical nature was less likely to be listened to when provided by a woman.
To reach Australia’s productivity potential and innovative capability, we need to develop a sustainable STEM skills pipeline for the future.
We must focus on creating effective strategies and polices to effectively attract, develop and retain women in the STEM workforce.