After kicking things off with Let’s talk about Diversity & Inclusion last month, (check out post here) let’s dive deeper into a heavily discussed topic. Women in STEM.
It is widely acknowledged that STEM careers are male-dominated, in fact the percentage of Women in STEM working in an industry such as Computer Studies is only 19%! This is hardly surprising when we consider that only 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce is female.
It is believed the STEM imbalance comes from the lack of awareness shown to girls in school and the encouragement to study STEM further at university. Only 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice.
There are many factors that give insight into why there is a lack of women in stem roles:
- Likeability bias– it’s harder to be liked as a woman in a senior position than it is as a man.
- Lack of role models- There is a lack of Women in STEM role models to inspire future generations. 78% of students can’t name a famous female working in technology.
- Battling stereotypes- There are a few stereotypes that can discourage girls from taking STEM subjects at school; the stereotype about people who work in STEM are nerdy or socially awkward and the negative stereotype about their intellectual abilities.
- Macho Culture- STEM is still a man’s world. Men make up the majority of employees in STEM companies, so some women find it hard to fit in or are discriminated against. Women often have smaller offices, are rewarded less, and have lower wages – female software developers earn 20% less than their male counterparts.
Who is responsible for change?
29% of women believe it’s down to employers to make the change- we can be that change to reshape the future of tech employment. It’s important that all companies get on board to encourage and support implementing more female talent into their company.
How can YOU help to support Women in STEM:
- Sponsor your female talent– Sponsorship benefits up to 30% in validation and recognition of future talent. It is going to take the engagement of senior high profile leaders in order to make a change. To build a viable future for women in IT, there must be a cultural shift.
- Change Maternal bias– offer flexible working for those who have children, women who leave work early to pick their children up are judged whereas fathers who do the same are praised.
- Grow your own talent– There is an avoidance of junior/graduate recruitment, in house companies need to start growing their own talent with schemes and training programmes without already going out to find it.
- Asses your company culture- What environment and culture have you created in your workplace? Are there any things that indicate a male based space, and can you change this?
- Rewrite job specs to appeal to women- women tend to try and match themselves 100% to a spec before applying and are more interested In certain information such as benefits, whereas males will apply even if they only fit 60% of the criteria. Try having a ‘Nice to have’ list of criteria rather than ‘Must haves’. Most of the time requirements have some leniency anyhow.
Did you know:
The UK economy would benefit from an extra £2.6 billion each year if we increase the number of women working in tech to fill the prevalent IT skills shortage. Improved communication skills, innovative ideas and boosted morale were named as the core benefits most likely to come from hiring more women in the workforce.
How can I get involved?
There are tonnes of organisations and events out there investing in future talent and encouraging change for females working in STEM industries.
In London at the end of this month Women of Silicon Roundabout 2019 – 25-26 June is taking place celebrating and inspiring female technology professionals. https://www.women-in-technology.com/why-attend
STEM WOMEN– a fantastic listing of women in STEM events and job roles around the UK https://www.stemwomen.co.uk/events
The Women in STEM annual London conference is coming May 2020 be sure to check it out and register your interest here- https://stemwomenconference.co.uk/2020-register/
Check out these fantastic communities that we can also support to make change:
STEMETTES.ORG – an organisation that aims to inspire females into STEM women fields through panel events, hackathons, exhibitions and mentoring.
The WISE Campaign– A campaign to inspire girls and women to study and pursue careers within women in STEM fields.