The federal government has asked an independent review panel to find ways to improve diversity and increase the participation of women in Australia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors.
The Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review will be chaired by Cicada Innovations CEO Sally-Ann Williams.
Industry and Science minister Ed Husic said the panel will look at how support for diversity in STEM can be improved in government programs.
“It’s vital that Australians from all parts of the community have a chance to contribute to our ambitious scientific and technological agenda,” he said.
“The Pathway to Diversity in STEM review is about helping to create equal opportunities for women and historically under-represented groups to pursue education and careers in STEM, supporting them to unlock their full potential, and bolstering Australia’s STEM skills pipeline.”
Minister Husic said the expert panel brought a wide range of experience to the task and would contribute recommendations and guidance on improving diversity in STEM.
Joining Williams on the panel are Dr Parwinder Kaur, a biotechnologist, science communicator and advocate for gender equity, working to close the gender gap in technology; Mikaela Jade, a Cabrogal woman, passionate about storytelling, technology and knowledge-sharing and including First Nations voices; and acting Deputy Secretary Narelle Luchetti as the ex-officio member, who will bring experience in the Australian Public Service and public policy development, as well as implementation and process expertise to the review.
“STEM communities that are diverse, inclusive and collaborative are crucial to meeting the challenges of the future and maximising the nation’s potential,” Husic said.
“It also makes good business sense: studies have found firms with diverse workforces perform better.”
Minister Husic also announced the Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, has been reappointed for a further 12 months to November 2023. That will give her the opportunity to undertake important research to support the review.
“Professor Harvey-Smith will provide an important contribution to our next steps to improve diversity in STEM, which I know she is very passionate about,” the minister said.
“She has been an excellent leader within the STEM sector and will continue to provide expert advice and advocate the case for change.
“In doing so, she will continue to be a visible role model to encourage girls and women to enter STEM education and careers.”
The Minister made these announcements today at the Elevate: Boosting women in STEM event, at which 50 government-funded undergraduate and postgraduate STEM scholarships were awarded to women in STEM fields.
Elevate fosters more women-led collaborations in applied research and business, growing professional skills in STEM, and propelling more women into leadership.
The terms of reference for the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review are here: industry.gov.au/stem-diversity
Details on Elevate: Boosting women in STEM here: atse.org.au/career-pathways/elevate