Organisations ranging from large corporations to small scale businesses are increasingly recognising the gender imbalance that is still prevalent within the science industries. From putting in the hours in the classroom to establishing inspiring expeditions across the globe, women are fighting to have their voices heard.
Image via Shutterstock

An increasing number of projects aim to boost the confidence of women in the workplace, empowering women to take up previously male-dominated careers and claim the leadership roles they deserve.

Here are five of the projects helping and promoting female careers and leadership in scientific fields:

Homeward Bound

The Homeward Bound initiative combines adventure and research in a brand new, unique initiative. The project focus around a voyage which takes 100 female scientists to Antarctica on a training expedition with three main strands. These are leadership, strategy and research, with training taking part on-board and off-board for each.

The first trip took place in December 2016, and with trips running for the next ten years the project aims to connect over 1000 female scientists in a strong web of knowledge and support.

Led by leadership activist Fabian Dattner (of Dattner Grant) and ecological modeler Jess Melbourne Thomas, Homeward Bound aims to reach beyond its immediate participants to inspire young women throughout the scientific fields. It will do this through a professionally filmed element of the expedition, alongside the media coverage and outreach work generated by participants.

WISE Campaign

WISE bills itself as a ‘classroom to boardroom campaign’ working to increase the number of girls and women is science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). Their knowledge sharing events advise on topics ranging from flexible working to retaining and developing female talent. The WISE consultancy works to combat unconscious bias, developing the attitudes of employers through enlarging their knowledge and improving understanding.

The ‘People Like Me’ resources provide girls with examples of happy, successful women working within the science industries, and are offered to both individuals and companies. These resources promote their message alongside day-long courses that are run nationwide.

Looking beyond school to the next stage of a woman’s career, WISE’s four-day career development programme works on the important task of developing the confidence of women already in the industry. This course has seen 97 per cent of participants gain a more proactive approach to their career progression, with 88 per cent gaining higher levels of confidence and self-belief.

Graduate Women in Science (GWIS)

GWIS was started in 1921 as a community of female scientists in America, and still holds steadfast to its three guiding principles: connect, lead and empower. GWIS sends monthly e-newsletters and publications to keep its followers up to date with the latest news and networking events.

Members benefit from face-to-face or online networking services, whilst an annual conference features career workshops and leadership training. Particular importance is placed on providing mentoring and financial aid.

Million Women Mentors

MWM works to advance women and girls in STEM careers through mentoring. The impressive 1,315,00 pledges and 640,000 completed mentorings that the initiative already has to its name attests to its success so far.

With sponsors such as BP, Pepsico and Walmart, the project is aiming for – and achieving – impressive goals. These goals span every stage of a girl’s education, from encouraging study of STEM subjects at school and university through to working towards higher retention rates of women in STEM careers.

At the stage where a woman has a STEM job MWM’s workforce mentoring programmes become particularly important, ensuring that women aren’t intimidated and driven out of these male-dominated industries.

L’Oréal–UNESCO ‘For Women in Science’

The L’Oréal–UNESCO ‘For Women in Science’ partnership was founded in 1998, recognising women making a difference in scientific fields and promoting and supporting their work. The project acknowledges that the UK risks losing 33,000 female scientists every year, with 15 per cent of female science students having felt lonely and isolated and 11 per cent worrying about future earning power.

International Rising Talent awards are particularly aimed at supporting younger women who have already distinguished themselves with outstanding research. A large amount of the project’s focus, however, goes towards the 250 fellowships offered to talented female scientists across 112 countries.

On top of this, five international awards laureates are awarded annually, recognising female contribution to the advancement of science. These alternate each year between life and physical sciences, 2017 being the year of the physical sciences.

Altogether the awards and fellowships create a forward-thinking image of motivation and optimism across the field of women in science.

About the author:

Alexandra Jane writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency. Check out their website to see which internships and graduate jobs are currently available. Or, if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.