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Office for Women

Women in STEM

Careers in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) offer the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation.

Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is essential to our economy and to achieve gender equality.

By attracting and retaining more women in the STEM workforce we will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.

Attracting and Retaining Women in STEM

Attracting and Retaining Women in STEM

Attracting and retaining more women in STEM workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness. Scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians are working to solve some of the most difficult challenges of our time, and engineers design many of the things we use daily. When women are not involved in STEM experiences, needs, and desires that are unique to women may be overlooked.

This page provides information on how to attract and retain the participation of women in STEM.






Challenging Myths

Challenging Myths

There are many myths that impact on women and girls' participation in STEM, such as 'Girls are just not as good at STEM as boys' and 'girls don't like STEM as much as boys do'. Unless we challenge these stereotypes women will continue to avoid STEM careers.

Here are some resources to help you challenge the myths and stereotypes:

Girls in ICT Day

Girls in ICT Day

International Girls in ICT Day aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Girls in ICT Day events make girls and young women aware of the vast possibilities ICTs offer, quelling misconceptions about the sector and inviting them to envision their future as ICT creators. Encouraging women and girls to pursue ICT careers also fosters a more dynamic technology sector, posing extensive benefits for companies.


In 2017 the Office for Women marked Girls in ICT by highlighting local women working in ICT through a social media campaign.

Mentoring, Groups and Networking

Mentoring, Groups and Networking

Many organisations provide mentoring support for employees and this can be particularly beneficial for women working in STEM where they are often in a minority and can benefit from additional encouragement and support.

Networking is also a vital personal and professional development tool. A good network will enable you to meet like-minded women from different industries and get not only practical help but also a chance to share problems, find a sounding board and sometimes alleviate the loneliness of working in a male-dominated business.

This page provides links to mentoring and support networks for women as well as tips and information.

Mentoring and coaching


Agriculture, Food and Fisheries



Building and Construction


Economics, Finance and Maths



Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

Health, Medicine and Psychology

Innovation, Technology and ICT


Mining and Resources


Tips, support services and general information



Women are still chronically under-represented in STEM. Statistics help show what is the current state of play, what are the key issues and illustrate why it matters

Why do we need more women in STEM?

Why do we need more women in STEM?

Why do we need more women in STEM?

For many years, increasing women’s participation in employment has been argued as a matter of equality and the ‘right’ thing to do. Today, women’s full participation in employment is argued on the basis of economics - it is now the ‘smart’ thing to do.

In order for our economy to continue to thrive and develop we must ensure that the STEM workforce is sustainable. To do this we must look to our biggest pool of largely underutilized talent – women.

There has never been a more powerful time to be bold and take action to ensure that women and girls are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Out dated stereotypes about women’s work must not be a barrier to women and girls achieving high level, highly technical professional roles in this new work future.

We also know that companies operating with a gender-balance actually enhance their innovation and gain a competitive advantage.1

In addition, making sure people with interrupted career paths achieve their potential would improve the return on our education investment by over $8 billion.2

More information


  1. Foley, Cathy (CSIRO), 20 February 2014, accessed 30 October 2015.
  2. Ernst & Young, July 2013, Untapped opportunity: The role of women in unlocking Australia's productivity potential,$FILE/EY-Untapped-opportunity-The-role-of-women-in-unlocking-Australias-productivity-potential.pdf accessed on 30 October 2015

Women Trailblazers and Role Models

Women Trailblazers and Role Models

Women have contributed richly to the achievements of science, technology, engineering and maths. Many of these accomplishments have been forgotten, ignored and even hidden. Without their pioneering work, our quality of life would be much different.

A survey organised by the Royal Society revealed that 90% of 18-24 year-olds could not name a female scientific figure—either current or historical.

Positive female role models are important if we are to challenge the myths about who becomes a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician, both among the public, young women, their teachers and parents. Role models can also inspire women already in STEM to continue and progress, and they can help all STEM managers and staff to break down barriers.


  • Ada Lovelace (mathematician) world's first computer programmer
  • Amelia Earhart (aviator) first person to fly solo anywhere in the Pacific, first persont to attempt to circumnavigate the globe by plane
  • Emmy Noether (mathematician) recognised as the most creative abstract algebraist of modern times. Described by Albert Einstein as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. She also well-known for her groundbreaking contributions to theoretical physics
  • Florence Nightingale (nurse and statistician) founder of modern nursing, invented a form of the pie chart
  • Ginni Rometty (electrical engineer) first woman CEO and Chair of IBM
  • Hedy Lamarr (actress and inventor) invented communication technology that is used in WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and almost every single modern communication device
  • Hypatia (mathematician, astronomer and philosopher) first recorded woman scientist in history
  • Jane Goodall (primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist) world's foremost expert on chimpanzees
  • Joceylyn Bell Burnell (astrophysicist) discovered radio pulsars
  • Maria Mitchell (astronomer) discovered the 'Miss Mitchell's Comet' in 1847 and was the first person (male or female) to be appointed as professor of astronomy at Vasser University
  • Marie Curie (physicist and chemist) first woman to win the Nobel Prize (in Physics) and first person to win one in two categories (she also won in Chemsitry). Discovered polonium and radium.
  • Mary Leakey (archaeologist and scientific illustrator) discovered the first ancient skeleton of a primitive ape 'Australopithecus'. She also located the fossilized footprints of our human ancestors that confirmed that they had started walking upright 3.6 million years ago
  • Rachel Carson (marine biologist, writer and naturalist) famous for advancing the global environmental movement through her writings. She is regarded as one of the most influential people of the 20th century.
  • Rosalind Franklin (biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer) best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix
  • Valentina Tereshkova (astronaut) first woman in space
  • Virginia Apgar (anesthesiologist) invented neonatology including the Agpar method of measuring the health of newborn babies

This is what a scientist looks like (and a technician, and an engineer, and a mathematician, and....)



Women working and studying in science, technology, enginering and mathematics are encouraged to post a photo of themselves on social media using the hashtags #STEMSelfie and #WomenInSTEM

STEM selfies highlight women working in STEM and challenge the stereotype of what a scientist, engineer and other STEM professionals looks like.  They also celebrate the massive contribution of women to STEM, breaking stereotypes, and raising awareness about the importance of creating an inclusive space in STEM for everyone.

Download the #STEMSelfie How to Guide (PDF 1.3 MB)

View the STEMSelfies we have received so far

2017 United Nations International Day for Women and Girls in Science #STEMSelfie celebration

11 February marks the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The Office for Women celebrated the day in 2017 by showcasing the more than 80 STEMSelfies received up to the day. The networking event was hosted by BHP and attended by more than 100 people.

View the photos of the event.

View the media release about the event here.

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS .

Provided by:
Department for Communities and Social Inclusion
Last Updated:
16 May 2017
Printed on:
11 Dec 2018
The Office for Women website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016