Societal Limitations Still Discouraging Women from STEM

Posted 2/3/2021 by Benet Hanley

“I think it is important to stress to girls that Engineering is not just a problem-solving subject, but it is a social subject which involves noticing the needs of the world and cooperating in teams of engineers to come up with these solutions.” - Like Emily Wayland, based in Southampton

Studies and research over the years have largely associated gender diversity in organizations with improved creativity, collaboration, productivity, and profitability. However, only about 18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science and 20% of degrees are earned by women, while women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce – all of this while STEM offers some of the highest-paying and fastest-growing industries. Additionally, only an average of one in 10 leaders and board members in STEM fields is a woman.

Lack of exposure to role models

Too many girls around the world grow up unaware that women can succeed in STEM. One of the most powerful ways to encourage young women to pursue their interest in STEM is to create the awareness that there’s room for women to succeed in science and expose them to those already excelling in the industry. This is achieved when young female students attend programs and conferences like the annual WES (Women’s Engineering Society) Student Conference. The attendees sponsored by Enigma People Solutions in conjunction with UKESF attest to this.

According to Frances Hu, who is based in Manchester, “It is important to show that women are welcome in engineering, and this can be done by things such as WES webinar and conferences.”

“It’s a simple fact that people naturally move to people like them, but when there are no women in the room, there’s no one like them – if there’s no one like them, they don’t feel comfortable and shy away,” says Lydia Moore, based in Southampton.

Gender norms and mindsets

According to studies, boys and girls start out with no apparent differences in aptitude for maths and science. In fact, girls shine more academically, including in STEM subjects.

However, girls tend to drop STEM subjects in adolescence, even though they do well in these subjects. Less than one-third of female students decide to pursue higher education degrees in engineering and mathematics. Although these may seem like wholly self-driven choices on the surface, it is clear that they are borne out of years of absorbing messages that diminish girls’ interest in the sciences.

Viewed as amenable, studious and calm, girls are guided by parents and teachers towards reading, which required paying continued attention, and leads them to the arts and social sciences. Meanwhile, boys who are thought of as playful, curious and adventurous are channelled toward exploration and experimentation, which are the rudiments of science.

Like Emily Wayland, based in Southampton, puts it, “I think it is important to stress to girls that Engineering is not just a problem-solving subject, but it is a social subject which involves noticing the needs of the world and cooperating in teams of engineers to come up with these solutions.”

How We Contribute

Enigma People Solutions partners with the UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) to sponsor female students in the UK to attend the WES Conference every year. We’re dedicated to exposing young women to the world of STEM, inspiring their passion for technology, establishing them in their various fields of choice, and seeing the number of women in STEM grow exponentially. We’re working towards a society where women are as likely as men to engage in science and engineering careers. We know it’s achievable. That’s why we do what we do.

For more information on this program and other initiatives, please email us at hello@enigmapeople.com or call +44 131 510 8150.

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in photonics, electronics, semiconductor, software and IoT in Scotland and the UK. Check out our blog page for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on + 44 131 510 8150

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