Millions of dollars have been poured into encouraging more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths but it’s not yet clear which programs are paying off.
Astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith says measuring what really works will be a priority in her second term as the nation’s Women in STEM ambassador.
Since 2015, the government has promised nearly $17 million to encourage more women to pursue education and careers in the sector along with $100 million in other programs to boost Australia’s maths, science and technology skills. Those initiatives were largely focused on improving school-level maths and science education and setting up incentives for children who took an interest.
Until this year, the main way of tracking how many women were finding their way into the traditionally male-dominated STEM sectors was through the five-yearly census. That data showed that between 2006 and 2016, the proportion of women in the field lifted by just 2 per cent.