International Women and Girls in Science DayThe number of women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries is significantly lower in comparison to men.  

As proved by studies from 2017, only 23% of women make up the STEM workforce, 105,470 higher compared to 2016.

It’s good news that the idea of predominantly men in STEM-related careers is gradually changing. Some of the most influential women in the industry, such as Kate Bouman, who successfully created the image of a black hole, now have a voice. Below, we break down how women are making important steps within STEM careers.

According to a LinkedIn Data Analysis, the last four decades have seen more female workers in STEM. Melinda Gates, philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft said: “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, Fitbit received criticism following the implementation of a 10-day cycle tracker on their devices. Many believed that such mistakes could be avoided if women took part in similar decision makings.

Tackling Bias

Combatting biases is one of the main steps towards women’s empowerment in STEM. Up until the 20th century, Charles Darwin claimed women were less intelligent and they were denied access into universities. Undoubtedly, the idea that men are a better fit in certain fields needs to change.

Senior vice president for the American Association of University Women, Laura Segal said: “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”.

Funds Needed

Philanthropists have raised $25 million to boost girls’ interest in STEM industries and to reduce the gender gap. Having appointed 125 female ambassadors to stand for different STEM-related careers, Lyda Hill Philanthropies aim to use donations as grants for women studying Stem related courses.

Apprenticeship Schemes

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers revealed that a scarcity of experienced STEM workers costs the UK £1.5 billion every year.

In the UK, only nine per cent of apprentices working in STEM are women, which is why the government is committing to reduce the gender disparity by encouraging more female apprentices to access STEM-related careers through initiatives in schools, recruitment agencies and universities.

In 2018, Lookers, who run the government-funded motability car search scheme, doubled their number of female apprenticeships to encourage women to get into STEM careers.

Huge steps are being taken and the hope of seeing more women in STEM is high, especially with examples like the gender-neutral STEM advertisements. However, the work doesn’t quite end yet.