| 13 February 2024

Engineering a diverse future for Australia’s STEM system

Following the Australian Government's Pathway to Diversity in STEM Final Report Engineers Australia is calling for the adoption of the panel's recommendations and its Diversity in STEM Program Strategy. 

The report makes 11 recommendations to increase the diversity of Australia’s STEM system such as promoting equity and diversity throughout educational and careers to address stereotypes, and eliminating workplace bullying, harassment, racism, and discrimination. 

Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO is calling on the Government to adopt the report’s recommendation for future program development to support STEM qualified migrants in obtaining local employment.

“We are pleased to see the Engineers Australia’s Global Engineering talent (GET) program highlighted in the report and we would be like to see a national rollout of this innovative program which provides migrant engineers with local experience, references and networks. This program has the potential to meet the skilled workforce needs of Australian businesses, support infrastructure and energy transition efforts, and assist migrant engineers in finding roles commensurate with their skills,” Ms Madew said. 

Ms Madew endorsed the report, calling for the Government and employers to act with urgency, citing the engineering profession as a glaring example of why we need 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,” Ms Madew said.

“This is at a time where there is huge demand for engineers in the labour market. Addressing the lack of diversity in STEM occupations is critical to lessening current and future skills shortages. 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.”

The accompanying research report into STEM career pathways shows varying diversity outcomes across STEM disciplines.

Ms 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. 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,” Ms Madew said.

Engineers Australia will continue to work with the Australian Government and other stakeholders to implement the panel's recommendations, aiming to build a more inclusive, diverse and innovative STEM community that uses the talents of all Australians, including those from migrant backgrounds and underrepresented groups.

“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.”