There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about STEM( Science,Technology,Engineering and Maths) and especially about women in STEM. It is widely acknowledged that men outnumber women within the STEM world. The STEM sector continues to grow and in 2017 STEM employment grew by 6.3%, which was more than 6 times that of employment in the UK.
A report published in 2015 found that many girls didn’t have the confidence to target well paid STEM careers.
This is despite girls often having the same or better grades than their male peers. In fact the OECD found that fewer than one in 20 girls considers a career in STEM compared to one in five boys, despite similar performances in the OECD’s PISA science test.
Another study found that in 80% of the countries surveyed, girls are anxious about their performance in Maths. This is surprising given that girls often perform just as well as boys( or sometimes better). Young girls and women are also influenced by TV and film. Many shows and films depicting scientists as ‘nerdy’ men, thus putting off any women that may be interested in the field.
The report also found that there are differences in the way parents encourage girls to think about STEM careers. They are much more likely to encourage boys into those careers.
What is being done?
A number of initiatives to tackle this inequality have been started across the world. The Scottish Government funds Equate which aims to open up opportunities for women in STEM. Equate encourages employers and those in the education sector to work in partnership to tacckle the issue. In Febuary 2019, the UK government announced a range of initiatives introduced to encourage women in STEM. These initiatives include
- Investment in the Stimulating Physics Network which has a programme geared to increasing the number of girls studying physics at A level
- A Gender Balance in Computing Pilot Programme, with the aim of improving girls’ take-up of computer science GCSE and A level;
- Funding 500 training bursaries for schools and colleges in 2018/19 and 2019/20 and doubling the number of Careers Hubs from 20 to 40 in 2019
There are number of initiatives and organisations established to tackle this issue in the UK. The Wise Campaign is a great resource for all things STEM. They aim to help organisations improve their gender balance and provide support to employers , trainers and educators.
The Careers Clique is also passionate about helping to tackle this inbalance. Please sign up to our newsletter to be kept up to date on news , events and opportunities.