Gender Equity in Higher Education

Studies show that women researchers are squeezed out of academic 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 research performance and productivity. To ensure a consistent supply of top-quality research talent, we have gender balance throughout the academic pipeline.

SAGE considers gender balance to be 40% women, 40% men, 20% people of any gender. Applying a 40:40:20 approach is inclusive of those identifying outside of the gender binary, which is a key principle of the Athena SWAN Charter. Compared to a 50:50 approach, it also better accommodates minor fluctuations and is more realistic when working with small numbers.

The latest data from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment show that women continue to be underrepresented across STEM fields, particularly at senior levels.

STEMMSTEMAgriculture Environmental and Related StudiesArchitecture and BuildingEngineering and Related TechnologiesInformation TechnologyHealthNatural and Physical SciencesCreative ArtsEducationManagement and CommerceSociety and Culture

STEMM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. For the purposes of this chart, the following Academic Organisational Unit Groups (as defined by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment) are considered STEMM disciplines:

  • Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies
  • Architecture and Building
  • Engineering and Related Technologies
  • Health
  • Information Technology
  • Natural and Physical Sciences
Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for STEMM, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in STEMM fields.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 1. STEMM student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

44,695

47%

49,956

53%

94,651

37,366

49%

39,104

51%

76,470

Postgraduate

31,188

50%

31,454

50%

62,642

18,155

48%

19,458

52%

37,613

Level A

410

41%

585

59%

995

486

43%

636

57%

1,122

Level B

1,720

43%

2,271

57%

3,991

2,005

48%

2,140

52%

4,145

Level C

2,208

59%

1,542

41%

3,750

2,353

62%

1,417

38%

3,770

Above Level C

3,737

71%

1,500

29%

5,237

3,676

75%

1,204

25%

4,880

GRAND TOTAL

83,958

49%

87,308

51%

171,266

64,041

50%

63,959

50%

128,000

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. For the purposes of this chart, the following Academic Organisational Unit Groups (as defined by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment) are considered STEM disciplines:

  • Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies
  • Architecture and Building
  • Engineering and Related Technologies
  • Information Technology
  • Natural and Physical Sciences
Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for STEM, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in STEM fields.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 2. STEM student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

35,342

64%

20,164

36%

55,506

29,282

64%

16,405

36%

45,687

Postgraduate

24,579

66%

12,916

34%

37,495

13,520

65%

7,152

35%

20,672

Level A

317

54%

270

46%

587

351

57%

270

43%

621

Level B

1,210

59%

850

41%

2,060

1,476

66%

756

34%

2,232

Level C

1,663

70%

715

30%

2,378

1,744

72%

662

28%

2,406

Above Level C

2,857

78%

785

22%

3,642

2,672

83%

562

17%

3,234

GRAND TOTAL

65,968

65%

35,700

35%

101,668

49,045

66%

25,807

34%

74,852

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 3. Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

1,080

45%

1,313

55%

2,393

1,202

47%

1,361

53%

2,563

Postgraduate

870

46%

1,011

54%

1,881

806

47%

891

53%

1,697

Level A

11

50%

11

50%

22

26

47%

29

53%

55

Level B

47

46%

55

54%

102

84

55%

69

45%

153

Level C

91

56%

71

44%

162

131

74%

47

26%

178

Above Level C

194

77%

58

23%

252

187

82%

42

18%

229

GRAND TOTAL

2,293

48%

2,519

52%

4,812

2,436

50%

2,439

50%

4,875

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Architecture and Building, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Architecture and Building.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 4. Architecture and Building student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

2,849

54%

2,468

46%

5,317

2,520

59%

1,748

41%

4,268

Postgraduate

1,953

51%

1,901

49%

3,854

1,430

55%

1,186

45%

2,616

Level A

25

52%

23

48%

48

17

59%

12

41%

29

Level B

129

54%

110

46%

239

106

56%

84

44%

190

Level C

131

58%

93

42%

224

122

63%

72

37%

194

Above Level C

109

62%

68

38%

177

111

73%

42

27%

153

GRAND TOTAL

5,196

53%

4,663

47%

9,859

4,306

58%

3,144

42%

7,450

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Engineering and Related Technologies, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Engineering and Related Technologies.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 5. Engineering and Related Technologies student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

12,214

82%

2,602

18%

14,816

10,887

84%

2,081

16%

12,968

Postgraduate

8,724

79%

2,344

21%

11,068

5,242

79%

1,361

21%

6,603

Level A

86

75%

28

25%

114

106

77%

32

23%

138

Level B

305

71%

127

29%

432

481

81%

112

19%

593

Level C

532

87%

83

13%

615

582

87%

88

13%

670

Above Level C

854

88%

121

12%

975

836

90%

97

10%

933

GRAND TOTAL

22,715

81%

5,305

19%

28,020

18,134

83%

3,771

17%

21,905

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Information Technology, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Information Technology.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 6. Information Technology student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

9,057

82%

1,992

18%

11,049

6,001

83%

1,254

17%

7,255

Postgraduate

9,785

68%

4,525

32%

14,310

3,734

74%

1,307

26%

5,041

Level A

41

55%

33

45%

74

30

60%

20

40%

50

Level B

280

71%

112

29%

392

205

76%

66

24%

271

Level C

250

80%

64

20%

314

220

76%

71

24%

291

Above Level C

338

80%

84

20%

422

230

80%

59

20%

289

GRAND TOTAL

19,751

74%

6,810

26%

26,561

10,420

79%

2,777

21%

13,197

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Health, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Health.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 7. Health student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

9,353

24%

29,792

76%

39,145

8,084

26%

22,699

74%

30,783

Postgraduate

6,609

26%

18,538

74%

25,147

4,635

27%

12,306

73%

16,941

Level A

93

23%

315

77%

408

135

27%

366

73%

501

Level B

510

26%

1,421

74%

1,931

529

28%

1,384

72%

1,913

Level C

545

40%

827

60%

1,372

609

45%

755

55%

1,364

Above Level C

880

55%

715

45%

1,595

1,004

61%

642

39%

1,646

GRAND TOTAL

17,990

26%

51,608

74%

69,598

14,996

28%

38,152

72%

53,148

Note: the Academic Organisational Unit Group “Natural and Physical Sciences” includes mathematics disciplines.

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Natural and Physical Sciences, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Natural and Physical Sciences.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 8. Natural and Physical Sciences student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

10,142

46%

11,789

54%

21,931

8,672

47%

9,961

53%

18,633

Postgraduate

3,247

51%

3,135

49%

6,382

2,308

49%

2,407

51%

4,715

Level A

154

47%

175

53%

329

172

49%

177

51%

349

Level B

449

50%

446

50%

895

600

59%

425

41%

1,025

Level C

659

62%

404

38%

1,063

689

64%

384

36%

1,073

Above Level C

1,362

75%

454

25%

1,816

1,308

80%

322

20%

1,630

GRAND TOTAL

16,013

49%

16,403

51%

32,416

13,749

50%

13,676

50%

27,425

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Creative Arts, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Creative Arts.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 9. Creative Arts student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

7,033

37%

11,909

63%

18,942

6,489

38%

10,701

62%

17,190

Postgraduate

1,254

29%

3,121

71%

4,375

1,279

33%

2,637

67%

3,916

Level A

96

45%

115

55%

211

105

46%

124

54%

229

Level B

427

50%

432

50%

859

463

50%

470

50%

933

Level C

314

50%

320

50%

634

348

52%

316

48%

664

Above Level C

246

54%

206

46%

452

255

58%

186

42%

441

GRAND TOTAL

9,370

37%

16,103

63%

25,473

8,939

38%

14,434

62%

23,373

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Education, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Education.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 10. Education student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

2,828

23%

9,488

77%

12,316

2,552

19%

10,736

81%

13,288

Postgraduate

4,059

27%

11,064

73%

15,123

5,227

28%

13,540

72%

18,767

Level A

21

21%

79

79%

100

26

25%

78

75%

104

Level B

208

28%

531

72%

739

262

29%

653

71%

915

Level C

175

32%

367

68%

542

194

35%

362

65%

556

Above Level C

169

38%

272

62%

441

180

44%

233

56%

413

GRAND TOTAL

7,460

25%

21,801

75%

29,261

8,441

25%

25,602

75%

34,043

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Management and Commerce, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Management and Commerce.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 11. Management and Commerce student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

30,212

48%

32,539

52%

62,751

27,404

47%

31,282

53%

58,686

Postgraduate

24,645

48%

26,371

52%

51,016

19,805

51%

18,791

49%

38,596

Level A

132

52%

120

48%

252

102

46%

119

54%

221

Level B

653

52%

595

48%

1,248

696

55%

569

45%

1,265

Level C

680

61%

429

39%

1,109

598

63%

351

37%

949

Above Level C

734

67%

361

33%

1,095

668

71%

277

29%

945

GRAND TOTAL

57,056

49%

60,415

51%

117,471

49,273

49%

51,389

51%

100,662

Comparing the relative proportion of men and women by level for Society and Culture, 2014 and 2019. Line chart with 4 lines. The horizontal axis has 6 levels, from undergraduate student to Above Level C academic staff. The vertical axis shows percentage of gender at each level. Category legend with 4 items: 2019 M%, 2019 F%, 2014 M%, 2014 F%.
Gender distribution of student completions and academic staff working in Society and Culture.
Source: Higher Education Statistics Staff and Student Data, 2014 and 2019.

Table 12. Society and Culture student completions (in headcount and percentage) and academic staff (in full-time equivalents and percentage) by level and gender, in 2014 and 2019.

 

2019

2014

Academic Level

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Male

M %

Female

F%

Total

Undergraduate

14,678

34%

28,577

66%

43,255

13,747

35%

25,893

65%

39,640

Postgraduate

9,727

35%

18,382

65%

28,109

9,331

38%

15,508

62%

24,839

Level A

179

40%

268

60%

447

213

40%

315

60%

528

Level B

886

44%

1,135

56%

2,021

1,011

46%

1,171

54%

2,182

Level C

894

48%

977

52%

1,871

854

52%

786

48%

1,640

Above Level C

1,297

58%

954

42%

2,251

1,160

63%

692

37%

1,852

GRAND TOTAL

27,661

35%

50,293

65%

77,954

26,316

37%

44,365

63%

70,681

Selected notes on the data

The source data for the graphs and tables on this page are publicly available online from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Higher Education Statistics Collections.

If you find an error in our charts or tables, let us know by email to sage@sciencegenderequity.org.au.

Student data

  • Gender representation for students were calculated using student completions data from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment uCube. The data extracted were completion count by broad field of education, by broad course level, by year, by gender.
  • Students who have requested their gender to be recorded as neither male nor female are counted as female.
  • Discipline areas are based on Field of Education, as defined by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
  • For the complete data notes, please refer directly to uCube.

Staff data

  • Staff data were extracted from “Full-time Equivalence of Staff by Academic Organisational Groups”, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Staff Time Series. The data were viewed as full-time equivalents by Academic Organisational Unit, by current duties classification, by year, by gender. All work contract types (full-time and fractional full-time) and current duties terms (tenurial term, limited term, other term) were included.
  • Discipline areas are based on Academic Organisational Unit Groups, as defined by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
  • As these charts were based on Academic Organisational Units (AOU) staff data, only staff with “teaching only” or a “teaching and research” function are included.
  • For the complete data notes, please refer to “Definitions and Notes” for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Staff Time Series.

Version history

  • All scissor graphs and tables were first published on this page on 25 May 2021.
  • Prior to 25 May 2021, this page contained scissor graphs of gender distribution by academic discipline in 2014. Please note that the pre-May 2021 graphs were based on a different 2014 data set obtained by request from the Department of Education and Training, and are not identical to the 2014 data nor comparable to the 2019 data shown here.