Studies show that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are industries which are primarily dominated by men.
Statistics from 2017 found that only 23 percent of the STEM workforce was female.
In 2019, however, some of the biggest names and influential figures in the industry were women, including Kate Bouman, the woman who engineered the first image of a black hole.
LinkedIn’s data has found that in the last four decades, STEM had more women enter the field than any other. Philanthropist and former general manager of Microsoft Melinda Gates commented: “innovation happens when we approach urgent challenges from every different point of view. Bringing women and underrepresented minorities into the field guarantees that we see the full range of solutions to the real problems that people face in the world.”
So what is causing the low number of female workers, and what is being done to combat it?
Breaking Through Bias
Biases are something that, unfortunately, we all have. They’re a natural part of how we think, especially those who were raised with the notion that men are better suited for certain jobs than women. Charles Darwin once commented that women were intellectual inferiors and, up until the 20th century, universities rejected women’s applications.
Since 2012, schools, universities, and recruitment agencies in the UK have set up initiatives to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers. One change to the curriculum was the addition of female role models, like Marie Curie. It is believed that this has helped increase female A-level students studying STEM courses. In 2018, 50.3% were female.
Is There Enough Funding?
Many philanthropists have been keen to fix the gender gap in STEM industries. So much so, they have contributed money towards supporting women in the industry, including $25 million that has been funded to boost girls’ interest by changing the narrative that they’re masculine careers.
A lack of skilled STEM workers is costing the UK £1.5 billion a year, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Only nine percent of STEM apprentices are women.
In 2018, Lookers, retailers of motability vehicles, launched its female apprenticeship scheme to double the amount of their female apprenticeships and create a positive environment to encourage and attract females to STEM careers.
Positive steps are being taken, but there is further progress needed for women in STEM.
This article was published on Technative.io by Lucy Desai, a copywriter at Mediaworks Online Marketing. To read the article in its entirety, click here.
Interested in reading more about initiatives designed to get women into STEM? Explore AWE’s story on our panel participation at ITMujeres at Hanover Messe in Mexico here