More than 100 scholarships will be awarded next year to women and people from diverse backgrounds to help them pursue careers in STEM.
The award, overseen by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), will include funding 74 undergraduate and 32 post-graduate courses.
It will also include 10 “leadership scholarships” for those who graduated five years ago but want to study to further their careers.
The news comes as STEM professions, including aviation, grapple with a talent shortage exacerbated by a lack of women entering the sector. Recent data has shown women make up only 20 per cent of those with STEM qualifications.
The $41.2 million Elevate scholarship, which has been running for over seven years, is a collaboration between the ATSE, Defence, and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
Next year’s cohort will include 14 Defence-funded scholarships that provide access to tours, workshops and panels.
“Attracting talented STEM professionals to the rewarding field of defence science and technology is critical,” said Tanya Monro, Australia’s chief defence scientist.
“Defence is building a capable and diverse workforce – we have an ambitious 50 per cent target for women’s participation across key research and innovation career pathways.”
Scholarships will commence early next year and include 116 women and diverse people studying across 26 universities across Australia.
In total, more than 1,200 people applied this year, with applications for the next cohort opening soon. To find out more, click here.
The lack of diversity in STEM has become a major topic in a variety of sectors.
Earlier this year, for example, a landmark government review into the lack of diversity in STEM recommended stripping organisations of research funding if bullying and harassment aren’t tackled.
It was one of a series of draft recommendations proposed by an independent panel, alongside an idea to create a council to monitor progress in the sector.
The Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, announced the review in September last year following the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit.
The report aimed to “widen the pipeline of talent available” to help deliver 1.2 million technology-related jobs by 2030.
Its most eye-catching recommendation called on the sector to implement incentives and “accountability mechanisms” to increase inclusion.
“STEM-employing organisations and governments should apply policies like anti-bullying and harassment, flexible work and pay transparency to create safe and inclusive environments,” it said.
“They should invest in programs to accelerate progress for under-represented groups, like career development, fellowships, job customisation or mentoring.”
However, the review went further and argued that organisations should recognise bullying, harassment and discrimination as scientific and academic misconduct.