Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Questions without Notice
Women's Economic Security
I thank Senator Chandler for this very important question and for her enduring commitment to the prosperity and progress of Australian women and particularly their economic security. As Australians and those on this side of the chamber know, the Morrison government is committed to seeing more Australians in jobs, and that is particularly so for Australian women.
The best way to secure Australian women's economic security is to ensure that the economy is strong and that there are plenty of jobs to go to. At present, there are more Australians in jobs than ever before. There are more Australian jobs than there were before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In March 2021, women's employment in fact hit a record high. The women's workforce participation rate is now hovering around record highs. What's more, the gender pay gap is at record lows, at around 13.4 per cent, which of course is considerably lower than the 17.4 per cent that was observed during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor government.
But we're not resting on our laurels; there's certainly more work to do. The Morrison government is particularly focused on policies that generate jobs in emerging industries—industries that require skills in technology, science, engineering and maths, known as STEM. This is particularly so for Australian women, for these are the better and higher-paying jobs of the future. Australia's talent pool is too often limited by the underrepresentation of over half of Australia's population in STEM education and careers. We have such a highly educated workforce and a highly educated female population. In fact, we have the most highly educated female population of any developed country, and yet there is a leaky pipeline and low representation of women in STEM. That's why, in the 2021-22 budget, the Morrison government announced a $42.4 million investment to support women to— (Time expired)
Yes, I can talk about the more than 230 women who are going to pursue STEM scholarship programs through the Morrison government's announcements in the budget. In fact, this program will see more Australian women supported into the jobs of the future.
The program builds on the Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeship program that was announced previously, providing support for more women to undertake university-level STEM qualifications. These scholarships are co-funded with industry and are industry led in areas that industry has identified as most important to them, those fields in STEM with the highest potential to support future growth industries and better and higher-paying jobs—for example, the medtech industry, which was identified as a national manufacturing priority in the Morrison government's Modern Manufacturing Strategy. This is a critical field, particularly in light of the coronavirus. Most importantly, these measures create a bigger pipeline of women entering STEM careers, as well as an increased number of role models and peer leaders— (Time expired)
Yes, I certainly can. As a matter of fact, I visited very recently a number of organisations where the feedback about this program has been exceptional. There was a medtech organisation in Melbourne, Seer Medical, an innovative organisation which simplifies complex medical systems into technologies that people can benefit from in the comfort of their own homes. I also visited Cicada Innovations in Sydney and met the CEO there, Sally-Ann Williams. Sally-Ann is a terrific role model for young women contemplating a career in STEM and was particularly supportive of this government's actions to get more women into rewarding careers in Australia's jobs of the future.
Misha Schubert of Science and Technology Australia said that the new STEM scholarship program will pave the way for more women and girls to study science and technology. Kylie Walker, CEO of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, also welcomed the program, saying that increasing investment in STEM education and research translation will strengthen Australia's capacity to rebuild after COVID. And, indeed, Michelle Gallaher, CEO of health data analytics company Opyl, said that scholarships for the private sector are an excellent investment. (Time expired)