Nov 1, 2016 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The Women in New South Wales (NSW) unit of the Department of Health in Australia recently released a new report that shows that more men complete undergraduate degrees in STEM than women, despite numerous state-funded programs aimed at narrowing the gap.  In fact, the number of Australian women completing undergraduate degrees in STEM is at a 10-year low. 

Why the gap?  Support.  As reported to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Pru Goward, NSW Minister for Women said that it’s ultimately up to schools and families to support women studying STEM.  She said, “We need parents to be more supportive, we need girlfriends and boyfriends to be more supportive of girls making this choice.”   She added, “We certainly need career advisors, mentors and teachers, and principals recognizing that it’s important that we narrow that gender gap.”   

As for the gender pay gap, on average, men earn $3,000 more after graduation than women.  While this gap is still high, it’s decreased by $2,000 since 2012.  Goward stated, “What is depressing is that even though Australian employers know that this century is the century of science and technology and engineering … that this gap between the apprenticeships offered to girls and boys is still so wide.”  She added, “If we don’t give these opportunities to girls, we condemn them to a limited number of careers.”

While Australia may have a way to go at narrowing the gender gap for Australian women in STEM, there is hope. As per the report, women are more likely to finish postgraduate degrees in STEM than men.  So, the women who are pursuing STEM as undergraduates are more likely to complete postgraduate work in the field.  Goward acknowledged this success, but stated that it was “not enough.”  More good news?  The report also showed that women were more likely to complete higher education than men. 

Learn more about studying in Australia

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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