A new report on Women in NSW Education has revealed that a larger number of women than men are completing postgraduate degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The report, released by the Minister for Women, Pru Goward, analysed and compared data on male and female university graduates from 2014.
The data shows that 32.9% of women who completed a postgraduate course did one in an STEM related field, while 30.7% of men who completed a postgraduate course did one in an STEM field. The most popular of these fields for women were Health (including Nursing) which held a 73.6% majority to women, and Natural and Physical Sciences, which held a 54.7% advantage to women.
Meanwhile, for undergraduate courses, STEM programs were less popular for women than men, however they still made up the majority of completions, with 55% of STEM undergraduate completions being women. This is due to the fact that more university students were women overall (they made up 59.9% of undergraduate completions and 60.1% of postgraduate completions).
Perhaps the most concerning result to come out of the data is that there is still a pay gap between median male and female graduate salaries. In 2015, the starting salary for women was $52,000, compared with $55,000 for men (a $3000 gap). This gap has widened since 2006, when it was $1000, but has narrowed since 2012, when it was $5000.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Pru Goward has suggested that encouraging more women into STEM courses could help close this gap.
"If we want to achieve gender equity and a more diverse workforce, we need to continue encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and work in industries reliant on those skills," she said.
"Careers reliant on the study of STEM subjects can earn women up to double the salaries of vocations women have traditionally pursued."
While the report has revealed some interesting progress, it seems women still have a way to go when it comes to STEM involvement. Currently in NSW, people studying primary school education can opt to specialise in STEM subjects, and Women NSW is also providing funding to help NSW organisations develop programs to support the economic empowerment and leadership of women in several fields.