Kate Russell: why aren’t more girls taking up STEM subjects?
It is a sad fact of life today that while women make up around 46% of the UK workforce, they are extremely poorly represented in the STEM professions – in other words science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to recent Government figures, if you exclude medical professions just 15.5% of UK STEM jobs are filled by women, and that figure drops to 8% when you look at engineering jobs.
Despite the gender imbalance being a mainstream topic of debate the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. According to 2014 e-skills, the number of women working in the tech sector has fallen from 17% to 16% again this year – and that is a figure that’s been falling year on year for over a decade now. When you consider that UK businesses face an ever growing skills gap when it comes to recruiting digitally skilled workers, it seems a no brainer that we should try to boost the number of girls enterting the field.
Women are not being held back by an inability to get educated – in fact the opposite is true. Research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has found that by 2020, 49% of women will have degree-level qualifications compared to just 44% of males. It also predicts that women will take two-thirds of the new high-skill jobs created over the next six years. Right now the report shows that girls are outperforming boys in GCSEs and A-levels, and there are more women graduating from university than men. Where these numbers go awry is that only 12% of engineering and technology undergraduates are female.
So, here’s my manifesto for encouraging more girls to study STEM…
- Thursday 4th April 2019
- Lecture 18:00
- Wine Reception 19:00
- Isaac Newton Building Lecture Theatre
Journalist, reporter and author, Kate has been writing about technology and the Internet since 1995. She’s been a regular on the BBC technology programme Click for over a decade, and writes for the National Geographic Traveller magazine. She also speaks at conferences and digital strategy and policy meetings, as well as lecturing in schools and universities, to inspire the next generation of technologists. Her website has won multiple awards for best technology blog, and she has been featured as one of the top 50 most influential women in UK IT by Computer Weekly magazine for the last two years. She also writes sci-fi and fantasy with two published novels now available.
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