Women who graduate in STEM fields earn 10% less than their male peers, and 33% less than females who graduate in other subjects, according to new research by the National Centre for Equity in Higher Education.
The study was based on data from four universities in the same state, with 62% of the sample STEM graduates being female. The paper states that women were well represented in science and maths (59%), but that they comprised just 14% of engineering graduates and 10% of IT graduates.
While there was little difference between male and female STEM graduates in their propensity to be employed, women were also more likely to report that their job was not relevant to their qualifications when compared to their male peers.
Women in STEM policies must address workplace discrimination as well as education
The paper points out that the findings are particularly disconcerting given the current national push to encourage women and girls into STEM careers:
“[Female STEM graduates] not only fare worse than females who enter non-STEM fields, they also do markedly worse than their male classmates. Given the obvious barriers to enrolling in such fields in the first place, it is particularly worrisome that those women who successfully graduate then also appear to face discrimination in the workforce.”
“Policies to increase the number of young women choosing to enter STEM courses will need to also address gender inequality in labour market opportunities.”
Educated and empowered
The report follows an article by Minister for Women Michaelia Cash on International Women’s Day, in which she stated that we need more educated and empowered girls:
“It is important that our policies are tailored to inspire more girls to pursue careers in STEM industries, reverse the current trend, equip our next generation with the skills they are going to need and capitalise on future job opportunities.”
The Women in STEM conference takes place in Melbourne this September, and will explore strategies for transforming the working landscape for women in this sector. Book by July 8th to save $400 on ticket prices.