• Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew.
    Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew.

Engineers Australia is calling for the adoption of 11 recommendations made in the final report of the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review.

The independent Diversity in STEM Review Panel has made the detailed recommendations, based on 12 months of public consultation, conversations and research.

The Review Panel’s recommendations aim to create structural and cultural change within Australia’s STEM system to support greater diversity and inclusion.

The Panel heard from around 385 individuals and 94 organisations through conversations, interviews and workshops, and received 300 written submissions.

Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew, endorsed the report, calling for the government and employers to act with urgency, citing the engineering profession as a glaring example of why it is time to shift the dial.

“In Australia, we are suffering a severe lack of diversity in engineering, just 14 per cent of working engineers in Australia are women. If we look down the pipeline, things do not improve – of our engineering graduates, just 19 per cent are women,” Madew said.

“Addressing the lack of diversity in STEM occupations is critical to lessening current and future skills shortages,” she said.

“The decline in uptake of maths and science subjects in school, and declining commencements in engineering studies in the past decade, are concerning signs for Australia’s engineering workforce pipeline.”

Madew emphasised the importance of developing policies and programs to consider the unique aspects of different STEM fields.

“We need to elevate the “e” in STEM, because engineering has a unique place in the national agenda,” she said.

“It is critical that the panel’s recommended advisory council includes an engineering perspective and that strategies are tailored to meet the unique challenges across all STEM fields, moving away from a generic, one-size-fits-all STEM approach.

“To achieve the richness of thought that diversity will bring, we need to work together remove the roadblocks that stop Australians from entering, or remaining in, STEM professions.”

The statistical reality

Women had to work an average of 56 extra days last financial year to earn the same yearly salary as men.

Just 13 per cent of engineers are female in Australia. Not all countries have such low numbers of female engineers, and some, including India and Pakistan, have already reached gender parity.

For every dollar on average men earned, women earned 88 cents. That's $238 less than men each week in Australia.

 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates a wage gap of 16 to 22 per cent globally, 

The median undergraduate starting salaries for women are 3.9 per cent less than for men. This gap widens 14.1 per cent for postgraduate staff.

As of 2022, the global proportion of women in the boardroom reached a historic high of 31.3 per cent.

According to the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Index the proportion of women on boards in Europe is the highest, with most European countries exceeding the global average.

Asia is far below the global average, indicating that Asian businesses still have a long way to go in promoting gender diversity and equality.