The Australian Academy of Science (the Academy) is spearheading the development of critical national frameworks for diversity and inclusion to guide transformative, systematic, and sustained change in Australia’s STEM sector. In collaboration with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Academy co-authored the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, a 10-year strategy to lift the participation of girls and women in STEM education and careers. The plan outlines six opportunities for stakeholders—government, academia, industry, education, and the broader community—who have the power to achieve gender equity by 2030. 

As the steward for the plan, the Academy coordinates the Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champions initiative enabling STEM sector organisations to publicly align their initiatives to achieve gender equity with the six opportunity areas detailed in the Plan: 

  1. leadership and cohesion 
  1. evaluation 
  1. workplace culture 
  1. visibility 
  1. education 
  1. industry action 

Over 40 organisations have become Decadal Plan Champions over the last 3 years. Their gender equity actions provide a source of ideas and inspiration for everyone wishing to support girls and women in STEM. Aligning actions with the Plan means the Australian STEM sector can push in the same direction to achieve gender equity by 2030. 

All Champions display visible leadership from their executive teams and demonstrate efforts to improve the visibility of women in STEM roles. The adoption of varying forms of inclusive workplace practices such as flexible work, paid parental leave policies, domestic violence leave, and training are common. Women earn 12.4 per cent less than their counterparts and pay equity remains a persistent challenge for the sector.  

This abstract showcases the efforts and successes of four Champions from different industries. Analysis of other actions and gaps will be presented orally.   

Opportunity 2: Evaluation – QinetiQ conducts an annual gender pay gap analysis conducted using the WGEA gender pay gap calculator and reports openly on their progress towards gender equality, including an increase in the representation of women in their executive leadership team from 25% to 40% and an increase in the overall recruitment ratio of women from 19.5% to 23%. 

Opportunity 3: Workplace culture – Department of Defence has collaborated with Defence industry partners in a women’s mentoring program called ‘The Future Through Collaboration’, which has provided 284 women working in Defence and Defence Industry with an opportunity for mentorship that may otherwise not have been available. 

Opportunity 4: Visibility – Macquarie University has established gender equity targets in their marketing strategy and now undertakes regular reporting, resulting in an increase in female representation, to 45 per cent, in internal and external media channels.  

Opportunity 5: Education – CSIRO developed the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy which in 2021 is supporting 308 young Indigenous women across Australia to engage with a range of STEM experiences virtually throughout COVID.  

To achieve gender equity, it is vital that long-term and sustainable changes are implemented across the STEM sector which is why initiatives such as the Women in STEM Decadal Plan and Champions are instrumental.  


  • Zach Ghirardello, Australian Academy of Science 


  • Anna-Maria Arabia, Australian Academy of Science