12 June 2023

Gender agenda: Defence looks to NAVIGATE its way to greater female take-up of STEM

| Andrew McLaughlin
Join the conversation
man and six women standing outside building

Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro (third from left) and Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite with female Defence STEM staff. Photo: ADF.

The Department of Defence has announced a drive it hopes will lead to greater participation of up to 50 per cent by women in many of its key research and innovation roles.

The new effort will be applied to Defence’s Australian Public Service (APS) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) entry-level programs, including the STEM Cadetship Program, the Research and Innovation Pathway of the Defence Graduate Program, and its NAVIGATE program.

Defence says these programs currently have a participation rate of about 25 per cent from women, and believes that increasing diversity and representation in STEM can only help strengthen Defence’s capabilities.

“Increased STEM targets at Defence open significant opportunities for women to amplify our force’s capabilities,” Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite explained in an 8 June statement.

“We’re backing efforts to attract STEM talent to Defence’s challenging, yet rewarding, field of innovation and technology. NAVIGATE is our mechanism to build a team of top-notch specialists.

“NAVIGATE, launched with explicit gender goals, underscores that determined participation targets bring tangible results.”

READ ALSO AmCham Canberra event gives insight into key Defence innovation announcement

Originally a pilot program designed to bring experienced STEM workers from industry and academia across to bolster Defence’s mid-career workforce capability and to broaden the diversity of its workforce, NAVIGATE will now be an ongoing program in Defence.

NAVIGATE participants would complete two six-month rotations in different areas of Defence before moving to a permanent role within the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group. This builds Defence-specific skills and supports staff in discovering how they can contribute within the Defence context.

The NAVIGATE program received more than 800 applications from the public and private sector STEM community in 2022 and, despite setting a target of a 40 per cent women’s participation rate, it surpassed that with 43 per cent.

“By setting targets for women’s participation in our STEM entry programs, we draw more fully on our nation’s talent pool, allowing Defence science to deliver greater impact to the ADF,” Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro said.

READ ALSO Are reports of former RAAF Hornets heading to Ukraine a realistic option?

“Continuing to ensure the success of women requires strong leadership and a commitment to change, so I’m incredibly proud of these bold targets.

“Defence’s transformation agenda includes becoming an exemplar in attracting, training, retaining and providing career opportunities for women. These measures demonstrate in practical terms how we are taking steps to achieve this.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Sadly, the government cannot even define what a ‘female’ or ‘woman’ is.

merakoinahin4:34 pm 13 Jun 23

Don’t ever see anything around setting targets for indigenous people.

Diversity in Australia = White women

What a silly thing to say, go and have a look at almost every job add in Canberra, they all preference first Australians.
All agencies and most large private sector employers set targets for diversity, some departments I’ve worked in even go so far as to pay out redundancies to “white women” in specific roles so they can then back fill them with first Australians to meet targets.
Such targets frequently push people without the necessary experience into these roles and they often fail and then leave to take on a new role elsewhere (with quotas that need filling).
Quotas for the right people with the right skills are entirely fair.
Quotas for diversity at any cost are unfair on the individual targeted and recruited.

Diversity = no men

Adults are back in charge on Capital Hill1:51 pm 14 Jun 23

There has been a definite shift by some Senior Leaders to put women into management roles no matter what. Flies in the face of being selected on merit.

merakoinahin5:04 pm 15 Jun 23

Where are these job ads? Pretty much every EL2 and SES role is given to white women these days. So much for diversity. Absolutely no person of colour in the SES level.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.