Diversity in STEM Review offers tangible actions for smashing barriers to education and careers for diverse groups
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has welcomed the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review draft recommendations released today by Minister Ed Husic.
Despite significant government investment and impactful targeted programs to increase diversity in STEM, national progress has been woefully inadequate; girls and women remain desperately underrepresented, from early school years, through to tertiary education and into careers. Scale and systemic work is urgently needed.
ATSE is very pleased to see the report’s call for concerted and central Government coordination and a national strategic approach.
Any coordinating body will require an independent council and must take a holistic cross-government and whole-sector approach to identify gaps and target the nuanced barriers experienced by a myriad of diverse cohorts such as First Nations peoples, migrant and refugee populations, people with disability, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Kylie Walker, CEO of ATSE said strong coordination and a strategy which knits together the multiple initiatives zeroing in on the diversity in STEM challenge are low hanging fruit.
“A whole-of-system approach that unflinchingly and collaboratively addresses cultural and systemic barriers will be critical to smash the factors that are holding women and diverse people back, and provide whole-of-lifecycle support to bolster diverse participation in STEM-powered jobs.
“We currently have highly targeted, strong impact and high-quality programs, but we need to coordinate across the system, hold ourselves accountable to the people we seek to help, be prepared to evolve in response to new information, and invest at scale if we have any hope of changing the game.
“The Government can design and catalyse coordination that goes beyond the specific programs identified in the review, and take a broad-reach approach to systemically address barriers to women and diverse people.
“There is no silver bullet for improving diversity in STEM. This work is hard, and no single program will solve it. What’s critical is that investment is long-term and at a genuinely national scale, rather than ad hoc, and that a connected-up approach is baked into the design across all programs so that we can realise our potential for a genuinely diverse sector and STEM-informed society,” said Kylie Walker.
ATSE’s Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM program was recognised in the review for having national ambition and intersectionality at its heart with inclusivity, accessibility and racial empathy underpinning the application process. The program was designed collaboratively and awards undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to women in STEM and provides them with targeted mentoring, professional development, engagement with industry, and leadership and research opportunities.
ATSE welcomes the recommendations relating to the Elevate program and is already in planning to work with industry partners to expand and grow its scale.
The Academy and its 900 Fellows congratulates the review panel, led by Sally-Ann Williams, and looks forward to advising on a robust set of final recommendations that can support systemic change for realising the potential and positive intent around diversity in Australian STEM.