Accountability crucial for Diversity in STEM outcomes, say Australia’s top engineers and applied scientists

12 September 2023

In its submission to the Diversity in STEM Review, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has called for formal accountability and oversight as part of a proposed office to coordinate national initiatives for greater diversity throughout STEM-powered sectors.

The Academy also called for limiting government-funded research grants to organisations with diversity and inclusion scheme accreditation via the Athena Swan framework; faster career pathways for STEM-skilled migrants; and the expansion of ATSE’s Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM program which is providing up to 500 undergratuate and postgraduate scholarships.

The proposed central Diversity in STEM Office and independent council can play an important role in providing oversight and accountability for industry diversity initiatives, ATSE said. This can empower industry to play an increasingly leading role with well-targeted initiatives. ATSE has urged that industry actions be concrete, with measurable outcomes and appropriate accountability and support systems.

“The Diversity in STEM Review  has highlighted new potential for many excellent initiatives in the sector, illuminated how much progress is still needed to increase diverse participation in STEM, and provided a robust path forward,” said ATSE CEO Kylie Walker.

“To ensure the outcomes of this review are realised, it is important to establish the Diversity in STEM Office and empower it with national coordination and oversight functions. We encourage strong recommendations that support the ambition for positive change with structural and funding mechanisms and requirements.”

ATSE also welcomes the Women in STEM Evaluation Report, which evaluates a range of programs including ATSE’s Elevate. The report finds that Elevate is showing early success for its target cohort, and that it could be expanded to support other underrepresented cohorts. The report also recommended that ATSE works with industry, the tertiary sector and the Government on funding models to grow the program.

ATSE has welcomed the draft recommendations of the Diversity in STEM Review as providing a national strategic approach.  The majority of the draft recommendations align closely with actions advocated by ATSE in its previous submissions to the review, and ATSE and its 900 Fellows look forward to collaborating with the Government and the sector to expand the scope of the Elevate program.

The Academy thanks the Review Panel Members including Chair Sally-Ann Williams, Mikaela Jade, Dr Parwinder Kaur and Helen Wilson.