LEADERSHIP: Women in STEM: Empowerment in Employment

leadership Dec 05, 2019

Women in STEM: Empowerment in Employment
STEM (standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are industries usually taken
up by men. Women in these careers are low compared to men. It was said that in 2017, only 23 per
cent of females were in this industry. However, we have seen an increase as this is up by 105,470
and is higher than it was in 2016.
Careers in STEM are improving, with more women getting involved and taking up various roles in the
industry. This year has seen some of the biggest names and influential figures in the industry being
women, such as Kate Bouman, the woman who engineered the first image of a black hole. In this
article, we track how more women have entered STEM than any other field in the past four decades.
LinkedIn reported that more women got involved in STEM careers over the last four decades, than
any other. Philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, Melinda Gates, said: “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”.
In 2018, fitness tracking company Fitbit were criticised for their period tracker as it had a 10-day
cycle. If more women were involved in the creation, they would’ve realised this was three days too
long. In the States, the tech industry is one of the highest paying fields — yet women are still paid
less than their male counterparts.
Breaking Through Biases for Women
Biases have, unfortunately, become normal in our daily lives. We’ve simply been brought up with the
idea that men are better suited for certain jobs than women. Charles Darwin described women as
intellectual inferiors and universities rejected women up until the 20th century.
‘’Teachers and parents provide explicit and implicit messages starting in early childhood that boys
and men are ‘better’ at math, and the gaps in the professions reinforce the opportunities, culture
and lack of role models that perpetuate male dominance”. The senior vice president for the
American Association of University Women, Laura Segal said.
With thanks to schools, universities and recruitment agencies in the UK, programs have been set up
to help women get into STEM-related careers. Previously, female students reported avoiding STEM
courses because of a lack of female role models to identify with. If girls were taught about female
role models like Marie Curie, for example, who discovered the effects of radiation, perhaps they’d be
more inclined to pursue a career in the field.
To help encourage change in the ideas of women taking up STEM-related careers, exam boards have
created a lot content with famous women in the industry. Rosalind Franklin, a woman central to the
understanding of DNA, has been taught across the nation. This has been linked to this year’s A-level
results, which saw female students studying STEM courses (50.3%) outnumber male students
(49.7%).
Funding for Women In STEM
Thanks to philanthropists who are adamant to fix the gender gap in STEM industries, over $25
million has been funded. This is all to help boost girls’ interest by changing the narrative that they’re
masculine careers. It’s expected to inspire other girls to follow other successful women.

It has been said before that women have left male-dominant work environments like engineering
because of a toxic masculine culture. They noted that they had to work twice as hard to be taken
seriously and to earn respect.
Lyda Hill Philanthropies has introduced 125 female ambassadors to represent the different STEM-
related careers. Part of the donation will be used to fund grants for women to study STEM courses.
Apprenticeships for Women Interested In STEM
Because of a lack of skilled STEM workers in the UK, it is costing the nation £1.5 billion a year. This is
according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Apprenticeships have an equal
gender balance, yet only nine per cent of STEM apprentices are women.
A disappointing statistic, the government is trying to fix this disparity by helping women become
more informed about apprenticeships to help them access STEM-related careers.
Lookers, retailers of a range of Motability vehicles, launched a female apprenticeship scheme back in
2018. The aim is to double the amount of their female apprenticeships and provide a positive
environment to encourage and attract women to STEM.
We are seeing that big changes are happening. For example, advertisements use more gender-
neutral language. However, there is still a long way to go for ideas to change for women in STEM.
Sources
https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/statistics/women-in-stem-workforce-2017/
https://www.stemwomen.co.uk/blog/2019/09/women-in-stem-percentages-of-women-in-stem-
statistics
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/06/how-melinda-gates-used-computer-science-to-help-solve-this-
tech-issue.html
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/10/women-stem-gaining-recognition-feature/
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/03/07/breaking-the-stem-ceiling-for-
girls/
https://www.stemwomen.co.uk/blog/2019/08/why-are-female-students-now-outnumbering-males-
in-a-level-science
https://www.nbcnews.com/know-your-value/feature/5-ways-close-gender-gap-women-stem-
ncna1070101
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47891902
https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancabarratt/2018/11/17/the-need-for-more-women-in-stem-roles-
goes-beyond-simple-diversity/#388f2b8b45cb
https://dallasinnovates.com/if-then-summit-convenes-nationwide-female-stem-role-models-in-
dallas/
https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/uks-stem-skills/60152/
https://feweek.co.uk/2019/05/10/ifa-to-trial-gender-neutral-language-in-bid-to-boost-female-stem-
applicants/

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