Diversity in STEM Review offers potentially game-changing solutions if implemented in full

13 February 2024

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) welcomes the release of the Diversity in STEM review, in particular the focus on proactive inclusion, equity, fairness and safety, and a place at the STEM research and development table for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report’s recommendations present an actionable roadmap for enhancing diversity and inclusion within STEM fields. There is an urgent need for committed efforts across government, industry, academia, community, and education sectors to move the needle on boosting diversity in STEM.  

ATSE welcomes the recommendation for expanding ATSE’s Elevate: Boosting women in STEM program to more diverse cohorts of STEM scholars. ATSE is proud to deliver Elevate, the Australian Government’s flagship STEM undergraduate and post-graduate scholarship program enabling diverse people to thrive in STEM.

ATSE also welcomes the recommendation for Learned Academies to take a lead position in   working with Australia’s first scientists and engineers to weave Traditional Knowledge into science and research systems. 

ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker, says that these recommendations, if implemented, will help build a better, fairer, and more resilient STEM future for Australia. 

“ATSE agrees with the recommendation to develop a national whole-of-government strategy and an advisory council for diversity in STEM. To make significant and lasting change, these efforts need to be more deliberate and cross-sectoral. It will be critical for this Council to be backed by a whole-of-government approach and have adequate resourcing to effect systemic change.  

“We are proud to implement the Government’s largest single diversity in STEM investment – the Elevate: Boosting women in STEM scholarship program. This review gives ample backing for the program to expand and embrace more diverse cohorts and shape a more diverse STEM sector in the long-term. 

“We are also pleased to see recognition that Learned Academies have an integral role in working with Traditional Knowledge holders to help weave their 60,000+ years of scientific and engineering achievement into western science and technology. A partnership based on mutual respect and awareness is essential for producing new innovations,” said Kylie Walker. 

Many of the review’s recommendations echo ATSE’s submissions to the review, including developing a centralised strategy for diversity in STEM, using government grant criteria to encourage uptake of diversity initiatives, and basing programs on evidence and best practice. 

ATSE commends the Review panel, led by Dr Sally-Ann Williams FTSE. ATSE looks forward to working with the government to implement these recommendations in full and stands ready to utilise its best practice programs – from STELR which is supporting diverse learning in over 900 schools, through to making the Elevate scholarship program available to even more aspiring diverse scientists, technologists and engineers.  

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Elevate program scholars and ATSE CEO Kylie Walker are available for interview. 

Quotes from Elevate scholarship recipients in response to the review: 

Veronica Karakousis, Elevate Postgraduate Scholar – Master of Computing 

“In my experience the biggest benefit of diversity in STEM is visibility. I didn’t think I had a place in the world of STEM until I saw people like me out there. The Elevate scholarship has surrounded me with like-minded people and showed me what a career in STEM can look like.”  

Dr Claretta Dsouza, Elevate Leadership Scholar – Master of Business Administration 

“Programs should support and raise diversity at every level to bring people to the forefront who may otherwise be overlooked. Evidence shows that diversity at all levels of an organisation leads to increased innovation and profitability. Diversity is not just about someone’s explicit characteristics, but diversity of thought.” 

Joanna Laymen, Elevate Postgraduate Scholar – Doctor of Philosophy in Biomimicry in Architectural Engineering

“Diversity in STEM is crucial because it ensures the creators of solutions represent the diversity of those who will use them. It enhances the effectiveness of innovations by incorporating a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Having a diverse cohort of women around me during my studies has provided a wide range of perspectives, all of which can contribute to our shared goals.” 

Yang-Ming Goh, Elevate Leadership Scholar – Master of Business Administration 

“The sustainable future needs innovation and implementation best facilitated and considered for by a diverse workforce. I envision a future where people from diverse backgrounds can flourish, finding their fulfilment through meaningful contribution in STEM industry, where their potential is supported through inclusive practices.” 

Media contact: 

Alexandra Horvat, Communications Manager | | 0458 892 825 

About Elevate 

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering’s Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM program will award up to 500 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to women in STEM. The Elevate Program aims to address gender inequities in STEM through fostering more women-led industry-academia collaborations in applied research and business, growing professional skills of women in STEM and propelling women into leadership.  

About ATSE 

We bring together Australia’s leading experts in applied science, technology and engineering to provide impartial, practical and evidence-based advice on how to achieve sustainable solutions and advance prosperity. The Academy contributes robust and practical thinking to Australia’s big debates. We are a Learned Academy made up of almost 900 Fellows elected by their peers