Why female empowerment is the solution to a shortage of STEM workers – FE News
We are rapidly approaching 2022, and yet female workers are still dramatically underrepresented in STEM careers.
Although the percentage of women in STEM jobs is increasing, it is still lower than we would like. In engineering, women make up just 10% of the workforce and just 16% of IT professionals.
While increasing the number of women in STEM is important for equality, it will also help the sector address a growing skills gap. Here, piston ring supplier FPE Seals explains how to empower more women in STEM roles.
Start encouragement at school
The careers we take are often the result of the subjects we study and excel at in school. But they are also affected by the way young people are encouraged to take different paths. At the fourth milestone, girls are significantly less likely to rate STEM subjects as enjoyable. Only 32% of girls said they like STEM, compared to 59% of boys. The percentage of boys who consider themselves good at STEM (60%) is almost double that of girls (33%).
What is interesting, however, is that girls outperform boys when it comes to performance in STEM subjects. More girls have reached the highest bands in STEM than boys in 2021. This is not a question of skill, but rather it could be that young women are being deterred from pursuing careers in STEM, while young men are encouraged towards them.
Studies have shown that gender stereotypes play a role in girls not choosing STEM subjects. Instead, the majority pursue more stereotypically female subjects in the arts and English. For girls to consider future STEM careers, they need to be nurtured from an early age. Young girls should be made aware of their math, technology and science skills at school level.
Partnership with educational institutions
As we have discussed, young girls can be subtly dissuaded from pursuing STEM studies. This could be because these subjects are often seen as traditionally male. It is clear that schools, colleges and universities need to do more to encourage young women to enter these sectors, but companies can also play a role.
Partnering with a university can help you connect with students in STEM or STEM-adjacent subjects. Many universities will allow partner companies to come and speak directly to students. It can give you the opportunity to promote your business and the work you do to bright young minds.
In addition to having the opportunity to “sell” STEM to the next generation of workers, you could also benefit from graduate programs. Market-leading companies including Natwest, Cisco, AA, and the UK branch of Amazon all participate in graduate programs in the UK. Thus, companies can benefit from the talent pool of British universities.
Provide opportunities for women in your company
When it comes to filling essential skills gaps, the people in your company are often the best option. Although they will need training for a brand new role, they will be very familiar with your company’s policies and processes. Essentially, they will understand what you are trying to accomplish.
If you have a lot of women in traditionally “feminine” roles like administration, why not give them the opportunity to train in a new area of business? Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with more women losing their jobs than men. Moreover, fewer women than men feel secure in their current job. Giving them the opportunity to improve their skills can help women feel more confident about their future. In addition to providing on-the-job training, you can offer to fund continuing education and graduate courses for women in your company who want to transition into an engineering or technology-based role.
Providing STEM opportunities for women in your company can help strengthen your position as a workplace committed to gender equality. Until more women start graduating in STEM subjects, it may be difficult to increase your percentage of female STEM employees. So why not offer the women already engaged in your company an opportunity not to be missed?
When it comes to STEM careers, two things are clear. The first is that there is a pressing skills gap that threatens to widen if supply does not meet demand. The second is that women are still underrepresented in the labor force. Empowering women to pursue rewarding careers in STEM is key to addressing gender equality. But it also allows your business to add valuable skills to a workforce in need. From school to higher education and work, we need to make sure women know they will excel in these types of roles.
Recommend0 recommendationsPosted in