According to 2019 figures from the UK Government, there are now just over one million women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce. This translates to an increase of more than 350,000 women (24%) entering these areas of work. While this may be encouraging to hear, there is still a long way to go for gender equality in these male-dominated industries.
2020’s target was hit. 2030’s target of 1.5 million women in STEM occupations would see 30% of this workforce filled by women, which, according to the Harvard University Institute of Politics, is the ‘critical mass’ level where a minority group of women would have the ability to influence real change.
In a post-pandemic, post-Brexit world, women in STEM have become more important than ever, and both events have highlighted issues within these sectors.
Melinda Gates, renowned philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, said: “Innovation happens when we approach urgent challenges from every different point of view. Bringing women and under-represented minorities into the field guarantees that we see the full range of solutions to the real problems that people face in the world.”
Now more than ever it is important to have a female point of view in the workplace, not just in politics and running countries, but in industries where women are under-represented. Women can bring diverse and fresh perspectives to male-dominated fields, creating a better platform for innovation, creativity, and decision-making.
Embracing and encouraging women in STEM
Glass ceilings can be one of the primary reasons why women shy away from degrees and occupations in STEM. Throughout their education, girls are systematically drawn away from science and maths courses, which discourages them from pursuing opportunities and training to enter these fields professionally.
We can encourage women to pursue STEM by:
- Exposing girls to STEM material and introduce female role models in these industries at a young age.
- Encourage participation in STEM program through funding and ambassadors.
- Break down stereotypes around male and female careers.
Working in STEM, you’re likely to have a high-paid job. There is a lot of growth in these jobs as well as high employment rates for graduates and being revolutionised by technology. Women are at a disadvantage by being underrepresented in some of the most lucrative and secure industries.
It’s important we open doors for women into STEM to not only benefit the industry but to create better opportunities for both women and the world. If you’re interested in pursuing STEM courses at university but have already applied for another course, explore your options from degrees to apprenticeships.