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Husic commits to a diverse science and technology workforce

Manufacturing News

Industry and science minister Ed Husic has tasked his department to determine how existing government programs can be reformed to support greater diversity in Australia’s science and technology sectors.

The review is also aimed to reinforce the government’s commitment to supporting pathways for women and girls into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The commitment emerged from discussions held in the lead up to and during the Jobs and Skills Summit and supports the national target of 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030.

Husic said: “Improving diversity in our science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce is not only the right thing to do, it will also deliver a huge boost to our national economy – $60 billion over the next 20 years.

“Breaking the back of a decade long science and tech skills shortage will be a tough job – but a necessary one.”

Husic said women remained chronically underrepresented in STEM, making up only 16 percent of people with STEM qualifications. Of First Nations people, only half a percent hold university-level STEM qualifications.

The Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley, welcomed the review.

She said: “This review is timely. We know that despite years of effort, women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM occupations, and the problem goes all the way back to the mid-school years when the participation of girls starts to drop off.

“But this is more than just about representation. Getting the settings right for women and for other groups in our community, is about equity.

“It will also ensure we can fill the skills gaps in industries set to shape Australia over the next two decades, by making use of our full human potential.”

The review will examine the delivery and impact of existing programs under the Government’s Women in STEM program suite and, where appropriate, government science and innovation investments with a view to increasing the diversity of participants.

The review will establish what is working, what is not, and where these lessons can be applied to improve overall diversity in STEM. The review will look at what is being done internationally for lessons that Australia could apply to its efforts in this area.

It will also examine cultural and structural barriers that limit participation and retention of women and other under-represented groups in STEM professions.

Picture: CSIRO/Dr Cathy Foley

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