The report, which was funded by the Invergowrie Foundation and conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, stresses the importance of early years and primary education to tackle unconscious gender bias in students.
Participation rates for STEM subjects in Australia have declined since the mid 1990s, particularly among girls.
As of this year, just 6 per cent of Year 12 girls study physics or advanced mathematics, with the numbers climbing among boys to 21 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.
According to the report, much of the blame for this disparity can be given to gender stereotyping at home, in the media and in the education system.
Among the report’s recommendations are programs to sensitise early childhood educators to gender stereotyping, coordinated approaches to pedagogy and curriculum to encourage girls to engage with STEM subjects, and partnerships with local industries to provide work placement and mentoring for students.
Wendy Lewis, Chair of the Invergowrie Foundation, says the report will help advance girls’ education in Australia.
“If girls and women are not encouraged to engage with STEM they will be at greater risk of becoming excluded from a substantial part of the workforce of the future” she says.