UK business needs to create a virtuous circle of positive change, says Ben Farmer, with successful women becoming inspirational role models for the next generation of builders, innovators and inventors
The UK’s ongoing STEM skills shortage is a key issue for employers such as Amazon. Vacancies for highly skilled technical roles will double over the next decade, while 89 per cent of businesses are already struggling to recruit for STEM roles.
Attracting more women and girls into these careers is rightly seen as part of the solution.
The benefits of a diverse workforce are abundant, for employers and employees Our recent research, in partnership with WISE, polled 1,000 women working in STEM and found that a 10 per cent increase of women in STEM careers would lead to a £3 billion boost for UK business.
Today marks Ada Lovelace Day, the annual event that celebrates the achievements of women in science and tech.
Founded back in 2009, the day was inspired by Ada Lovelace who is considered the first person to ever write a computer program back in the 19th Century.
Whilst Ada Lovelace Day is about Ada, it’s also an opportunity to think about the women breaking ground in STEM now and who are inspiring us every single day.
This is no easy feat: just two weeks ago, a male physicist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) said that physics was “invented and built by men” and, therefore, not suitable for women.
He also said that women were only welcome in science if they proved themselves enough to win a Nobel Prize, despite not having won one himself. He has since been suspended.
It’s frankly unbelievable that we are still having this debate over whether there is enough room in science, or tech, or maths, or engineering, for women.
In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, let’s forget the detractors concentrate on just a handful of incredible women doing amazing things in science.
It is well-known that women are under-represented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors in the UK.
Only 24 percent of women work in core STEM industries and there are concerns that the skills gap is widening.
What can be done to fix these problems?
Recently, the UK government has been increasing its focus on apprenticeships. This is when a full-time job is combined with training in essential skills and recognisable qualifications. In 2017, 114,400 young people started apprenticeships in England, in sectors such as health, engineering, and business.
Getting young women into STEM apprenticeships
According to Anne Milton, the minister for skills and apprenticeships, barriers need to be broken down in order to encourage girls to pursue science-based subjects.