Gender Equity in STEMM

Studies show that women researchers are squeezed out of science careers by structural barriers. The loss of such expertise is a significant waste of knowledge, talent and investment.

Gender equity and gender diversity impact our nation’s scientific performance and productivity. The most recently available data from the Department of Education and Training show that women continue to be underrepresented across STEMM fields, particularly at senior levels.

STEMMSTEMAgriculture & EnvironmentArchitectureEngineeringITMedicalNatural & PhysicalOther Disciplines

STEMM is defined as Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

Scissor graph for all STEMM fields showing divergence of male and female representation at senior grades
Gender distribution of student completions and staff working in STEMM fields. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014.

Students enrolled in STEMM

Including Medical Sciences and Health, women make up just under half of all STEMM undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments.

Bachelor degree: there are 369,123 total students studying in a STEMM Bachelor degree (includes Medical Sciences and Health).

  • 180,382 are women (48.9%); and 188,741 men (51.1%)

PhD: 33,366 total students are working towards a PhD in STEMM:

  • 15,265 are women (45.8%); and 18,101 men (54.2%)

Academics in STEMM

There are 28,734 academic staff and 2,598 research-only professional staff employed in STEMM

  • 13,488 are women (43.0%) and 17,844 are men (57.0%)

Looking across level of seniority, women make up around half of junior academics but around one fifth of senior professors.

Level A: there is a total of 6,038 junior academics in STEMM:

  • 3,029 are women (50.2%); 3,009 are men (49.8%)

Level E: there is a total of 4,007 senior professors in STEMM:

  • 825 are women (20.6%); and 3,182 are men (79.4%)

STEM includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Scissors graph for STEM fields (excluding Medical Sciences and Health) shows men outnumber women throughout career pipeline, diverging further at Level B and higher.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in STEM fields (excluding Medical Sciences and Health). Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014.

Students enrolled in STEM (excluding Medical Sciences and Health)

Excluding medicine and health, women make up nearly one third of students studying Bachelor degrees in STEM and two fifths of students studying PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 220,162 total students studying in a STEM Bachelor degree (excluding Medical Sciences and Health):

  • 72,911 are women (33.1%); and 147,251 are men (66.9%)

PhD: 24,771 total students are working towards a PhD in STEM:

  • 9,831 are women (39.7%); and 14,940 are men (60.3%)

Academics in STEM (excluding Medical Sciences and Health)

There are 17,002 academic staff and 1,480 research-only professional staff employed in STEM fields (excluding Medical Sciences and Health):

  • 5,972 are women (32.3%) and 12,510 are men (67.7%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 3,906 junior academics in STEM:

  • 1,630 are women (41.7%); 2,276 are men (58.3%)

Level E: there is a total of 2,577 senior professors in STEM:

  • 359 are women (13.9%); and 2,218 are men (86.1%)
Scissors graph for Agriculture and Environmental Studies showing the proportion of men is greater than women for Levels B and above.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in Agriculture, Environmental Studies and related disciplines. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

Students enrolled in Agriculture, Environment and Related Studies

In agriculture, environment and related studies, women make up approximately half of students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 11,967 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in agriculture, environment and related studies:

  • 6,288 are women (52.5%); and 5,679 are men (47.5%)

PhD: 2,480 total students are working towards a PhD in agriculture, environment and related studies:

  • 1,240 are women (50.0%); and 1,240 are men (50.0%)

Academics in Agriculture, Environment and Related Studies

There are 1,360 academic staff and 122 research-only professional staff employed in agriculture, environment and related studies:

  • 544 are women (36.7%) and 938 are men (63.3%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 366 junior academics in agriculture, environment and related studies:

  • 180 are women (49.2%); 186 are men (50.8%)

Level E: there is a total of 155 senior professors in agriculture, environment and related studies:

  • 21 are women (13.6%); and 134 are men (86.4%)
Scissors graph showing proportions of women and men in Architecture and Building, showing higher proportions of men than women at Levels B-E
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in Architecture and Building. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

Students enrolled in Architecture and Building

In architecture and building, women make up approximately two fifths of students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and half of PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 20,189 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in architecture and building:

  • 7,620 are women (37.7%); and 23,569 are men (62.3%)

PhD: 849 total students are working towards a PhD in architecture and building:

  • 425 are women (50.1%); and 424 are men (49.9%)

Academics in Architecture and Building

There are 771 academic and research-only professional staff employed in architecture and building:

  • 290 are women (37.6%) and 481 are men (62.4%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Levels A/B) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Levels A and B*: there is a total of 304 junior academics and lecturers in architecture and building:

  • 141 are women (46.4%); 163 are men (53.6%)

Level E: there is a total of 129 senior professors in architecture and building:

  • 21 are women (16.3%); and 108 are men (83.7%)

*Levels A and B are combined here because of relatively low numbers at Level A.

Graph showing higher proportions of men than women in Engineering, with the closest ration of 75% men/25% women at PhD, and diverging at more senior academic levels
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in Engineering. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

Students enrolled in Engineering and Related Technology

In engineering and related technology, women make up less than one in six students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and one quarter of PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 70,336 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in engineering and related technology:

  • 10,585 are women (15.0%); and 59,751 are men (85.0%)

PhD: 7,660 total students are working towards a PhD in engineering and related technology:

  • 1,966 are women (25.7%); and 5,694 are men (74.3%)

Academics in Engineering and Related Technology

There are 4,322 academic staff and 316 research-only professional staff employed in engineering and related technology:

  • 851 are women (18.3%) and 3,787 are men (81.7%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 810 junior academics in engineering and related technology:

  • 190 are women (23.5%); 620 are men (76.5%)

Level E: there is a total of 750 senior professors in engineering and related technology:

  • 65 are women (8.7%); and 685 are men (91.3%)
Graph showing higher proportions of men and women in IT, with the closest ratio of 70%/30% at PhD and diverging at more senior academic levels
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in IT. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

Students enrolled in Information Technology

In information technology, women make up less than one in six students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and one quarter of PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 32,932 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in information technology:

  • 5,278 are women (16.0%); and 27,654 are men (84.0%)

PhD: 2,111 total students are working towards a PhD in information technology:

  • 579 are women (27.4%); and 1,532 are men (72.6%)

Academics in Information Technology

There are 1,355 academic and research-only professional staff employed in information technology:

  • 299 are women (22.1%) and 1,056 are men (77.9%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Levels A/B) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Levels A and B*: there is a total of 571 junior academics and lecturers in information technology:

  • 140 are women (24.5%); 431 are men (75.5%)

Level E: there is a total of 208 senior professors in information technology:

  • 34 are women (16.3%); and 174 are men (83.7%)

*Levels A and B are combined here because of relatively low numbers at Level A.

Scissors graph for Medical Sciences and Health showing a higher proportion of women than men among students and Levels A-C, and a higher proportion of men than women at Levels D-E
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in Medical Sciences and Health. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

Students enrolled in Medical Sciences and Health

In medical sciences and health, women make up almost three quarters of students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and almost two-thirds of students enrolled in PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 148,961 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in medical sciences and health:

  • 107,471 are women (72.1%); and 41,490 are men (27.9%)

PhD: 8,595 total students are working towards a PhD in medical sciences and health:

  • 5,434 are women (63.2%); and 3,161 are men (36.8%)

Academics in Medical Sciences and Health

There is a total of 11,732 academic staff and 1,118 research-only professional staff employed in medical sciences and health:

  • 7,516 are women (58.5%) and 5,334 are men (41.5%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 2,132 junior academics in medical sciences and health:

  • 1,399 are women (65.6%); 733 are men (34.4%)

Level E: there is a total of 1,430 senior professors in medical sciences and health:

  • 466 are women (32.6%); and 964 are men (67.4%)

Natural and Physical Sciences incorporates Mathematics.

Scissors graph for Natural and Physical Sciences shows women outnumber men at Bachelor degree levels, parity at PhD, and men outnumbering women at Levels A and above.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in Natural and Physical Sciences. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014.

Students enrolled in Natural and Physical Sciences

In the natural and physical sciences, women make up approximately half of students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 84,738 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in the natural and physical sciences:

  • 43,140 are women (50.9%); and 41,598 are men (49.1%)

PhD: 11,671 total students are working towards a PhD in the natural and physical sciences:

  • 5,621 are women (48.2%); and 6,050 are men (51.8%)

Academics in Natural and Physical Sciences

There is a total of 10,236 academic and research-only professional staff employed in the natural and physical sciences:

  • 3,988 are women (39.0%) and 6,248 are men (61.0%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 2,532 junior academics in the natural and physical sciences:

  • 1,193 are women (47.1%); 1,339 are men (52.9%)

Level E: there is a total of 1,335 senior professors in the natural and physical sciences:

  • 218 are women (16.3%); and 1,117 are men (83.6%)

Non-STEMM disciplines (including human welfare studies & services and behaviour science).

Scissors graph for non-STEMM fields shows women outnumber ment up to Level B, but more ment than women at Levels C and above.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff in non-STEMM fields. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014.

Students enrolled in other disciplines (non-STEMM)

In the other fields of education, female students make up over 60% of students enrolled in Bachelor degrees and well over half of PhDs.

Bachelor degree: there are 504,513 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in other disciplines:

  • 310,824 are women (61.1%); and 193,689 are men (38.4%)

PhD: 22,988 total students are working towards a PhD in other disciplines:

  • 13,262 are women (57.7%); and 9,726 are men (42.3%).

Academics in other disciplines (non-STEMM)

There is a total of 24,688 academic and research-only professional staff employed in other (non-STEMM) disciplines

  • 12,266 are women (49.7%) and 12,422 are men (50.3%)

Looking across level of seniority, representation of women among junior academics (Level A) is significantly higher than among professors (Level E).

Level A: there is a total of 3,047 junior academics in the other (non-STEMM) disciplines:

  • 1,797 are women (59.0%); 1,250 are men (41.0%)

Level E: there is a total of 3,633 senior professors in other (non-STEMM) disciplines:

  • 1,095 are women (30.1%); and 2,538 are men (69.9%)

Comparison of gender representation by discipline

The proportion of women and men among academic and research staff varies greatly by discipline. Nearly 60% of academic and research staff in Medical Sciences and Health, but only 18% of those in Engineering, are women.

Table 1: Total number of academic and research staff in STEMM fields by gender, Department of Education and Training data, 2014
Field Females Males Total
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Agriculture, Environment and Related Studies 544 36.7% 938 63.3% 1482
Architecture and Building 290 37.6% 481 62.4% 771
Engineering and Related Technology 851 18.3% 3787 81.7% 4638
Information Technology 299 22.1% 1056 77.9% 1355
Mathematics 226 22.8% 765 77.2% 991
Natural and Physical Sciences (other than Mathematics) 3762 40.7% 5483 59.3% 9245
All Natural and Physical Sciences 3988 39.0% 6248 61.0% 10236
Total STEM (excluding Medical Science) 5972 32.3% 12510 67.7% 18482
Medical Sciences and Health 7516 58.5% 5334 41.5% 12850
Total STEMM 13488 43.0% 17844 57.0% 31332
Total Other Disciplines (non-STEMM) 12266 49.7% 12422 50.3% 24688
Grand Total 25754 46.0% 30266 54.0% 56020

Notes:

1. Data provided by Department of Education & Training. Data held by SAGE.

2. STEMM includes:

  • Engineering and Related Fields;
  • Health;
  • Information Technology;
  • Maths;
  • Natural & Physical Sciences;
  • Agriculture, Environment & Related; and
  • Architecture and Building

3. The figure for Bachelor degrees in STEMM updates earlier figures for student enrollments. Earlier figures excluded STEMM students enrolled in non-STEMM double degrees:

  • STEMM Bachelor degree (excluding double-degrees): there are 361,136 total students studying in a STEMM Bachelor degree (includes medicine and health).
    • 176,950 are women (49.0%); and 184,186 men (51.0%)
  • STEM Bachelor degree (excluding double-degrees): there are 213,090 total students studying in a STEM Bachelor degree (excluding Medical Sciences and Health).
    • 69,991 are women (32.9%); and 143,099 are men (67.1%)
  • Natural and Physical Sciences Bachelor degree (excluding double-degrees): there are 80,380 total students studying in a Bachelor degree in the Natural and Physical Sciences.
    • 40,872 are women (50.9%); and 39,508 are men (49.1%)

     

This update was issued on 16 August 2016.

Previous updates:
4 August 2016. Data added for specific disciplines and non-STEMM fields.
22nd May 2016. Data presented represents total STEMM staff numbers among full-time and fractional full-time academic and research staff.
9th May 2016. Updated data representing FTE positions. Earlier published data are available here.
31 March 2016. The data represented in tables and figures referred to a total count of work contract type.