Empowerment in Employment: Women in STEM:by Natasha Christou Digital Marketing Consultant
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (otherwise known as STEM) are industries usually occupied by men. Women taking up these roles are low compared to those that are men. According to statistics from 2017, only 23 per cent of the STEM workforce were female. This is, however, up by 105,470 higher than it was in 2016.
Careers in STEM are changing for the better, with more women getting involved and gaining jobs. This year has seen some of the biggest names and influential figures in the industry being women, such as Kate Bouman, the woman who achieved 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 found out that over the last four decades, more women got involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers that any other decade. 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”.
The need for more women in these sectors was highlighted when Fitbit came under fire in 2018. The issue was that their period tracker had a 10-day cycle. If more women were involved in the creation, they would’ve realised this was three days too long.
We’re Breaking Through Bias
Biases have become a natural part of the way we think. Sadly, we all have them, especially when we’ve been raised 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.
There have been various programs from schools, universities and recruitment agencies in the UK to help women take up 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.
Exam boards have created more content with famous women in the industry, to help change ideas revolving STEM careers for women. 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 Taking Up STEM-Related Careers
Over $25 million has been funded by philanthropists who are adamant to fix the gender gap in STEM industries. 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.
Many women have been reported leaving male-dominant work environments like engineering due to 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 In STEM
According to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a lack of skilled STEM workers in the UK is costing the nation £1.5 billion a year. 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, who offer 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.
STEM is changing and positive changes are happening, for example, advertisements use more gender-neutral language. However, there is a lot of progress to be made for women in STEM.
Created on Dec 3rd 2019 04:18. Viewed 135 times.