Research to inform the Diversity in STEM review


The Commonwealth Government is conducting a Diversity in STEM review to identify ways to increase access and inclusivity within STEM education, careers, and industries.

Our research informs the review by examining the effectiveness of initiatives supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM workforce.

Our approach 

The first arm of our research examines the effectiveness of initiatives that aim to support diverse, inclusive, and equitable STEM workforces. We tackle this through a series of systematic reviews of peer-reviewed papers on a range of subjects. 

The second arm combines rigorous research approaches and meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to gain an Indigenous voice on pathways in STEM.

By listening to the stories of Indigenous people who have excelled in STEM despite barriers, this research will provide a broader understanding of the unique strengths, barriers, and aspirations of Indigenous peoples in STEM.  

Research project streams and updates

1. What evidence exists on the efficacy of initiatives that retain and progress women and other under-represented groups in the STEM workforce? 

We are using a multi-part systematic review to sort through the peer-reviewed literature on equity initiatives in the workplace. This approach will guide us to make evidence-based recommendations on how to implement workforce equity initiatives successfully.

Additional pieces of work under this project arm are underway, including those examining the evidence base on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the STEM workforce and how the STEM sector might be more inclusive of employees with disabilities. 

2. What evidence exists on how to increase and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in STEM sectors? 

This arm of the project is an investigation of the strengths and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in understanding systemic and cultural barriers and facilitators to engagement in STEM jobs.  

These research activities aim to provide Indigenous informed recommendations on how to promote Indigenous participation in STEM and break down barriers that have historically hindered representation in the field. 

Workforce gender equity initiatives

Team: Dr Jessica Bergman, Associate Professor Lisa A Williams, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith 

This initial report summarises the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature on what initiatives benefit gender equity in STEM, and how they can be successfully implemented and evaluated. We used this evidence to make preliminary recommendations for what works to shift the dial around gender equity in the STEM sector.

Big Mob, STEM it up!

Team: Associate Professor Marnee ShayRen PerkinsAssociate Professor Jodie MillerAmy ThomsonAntoinette Cole

The Big Mob, STEM it up! project will delve into the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples in STEM across industry, community, and education via four activities: 

  1. A systematic review of the literature regarding Indigenous participation in STEM.
  2. A community survey providing diverse Indigenous peoples with the opportunity to share their perspectives on STEM. 
  3. A series of qualitative Interviews with Indigenous people working in STEM, to be published as a podcast. 
  4. An international case study analysis. 
“S.T.E.M in Community” Artwork by Wagiman Artist, Tara-Rose Butterworth-Gonebale

About the artwork

“This artwork depicts the importance of collaboration between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous communities within the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It speaks to the traditional ecological knowledge of Indigenous people, and how it can be integrated into modern practices of today.”

The artwork for the Big Mob, STEM it up! project was done by Naarm Artist, Tara-Rose Butterworth-Gonebale. Tara-Rose is a proud Wagiman Woman from the Western Suburbs of Naarm (Melbourne). She has been an exhibiting artist from as young as eight years of age and has worked in Aboriginal community services for the last ten years.

Tara-Rose is currently working with mob in the correctional space as an Aboriginal Mental Health Worker. You can see more work by Tara-Rose on her Instagram page or Facebook Page, or search for her using her username, @marlimarli_

Latest News

Keep up with the latest news from Australia's Women in STEM Ambassador.

What works to improve equity in STEM

We have developed tools to guide evaluation efforts across STEM equity initiatives in Australia.