Women in STEM - why are we still talking about this? A blog by Kathryn Wagstaff, GBSLEP Senior Policy Manager for Data Driven Health and Life Sciences
12 Oct 2021
I find it really difficult to comprehend that we are still talking about the lack of women in STEM in 2021. For the sector I represent, data-driven health and life sciences, I am fortunate to cross paths with many brilliant people and many great women who have paved the way for success. Whilst their gender isn’t an issue for them – we do need more brilliant minds so that the workforce is diverse in every way. Truth be known I do meet more men than women in my work, but at least there are some women - just not enough if the figures are anything to go by.
What’s the upshot of this? You have got to wonder how many breakthroughs and innovations we are missing out on by not encouraging women to go into STEM. Recently, Forbes outlined the top three reasons we need more women in tech roles; diversity generates more revenue, women think differently and we need more role models. In 2020 women made up 50.6% of the UKs population but only made up 21-23% of the STEM workforce. It’s estimated that by 2030, this figure could reach 29% – I still find this shocking and I personally want to do something about it. We need to start young. There is a noticeable gap between girls and boys that study STEM subjects beyond GCSE (35% of girls and 80% of boys) which means the pipeline of talent gets narrower very quickly! Contrast this with research that has found up to 70% of young women would be interested in a tech career.
At Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, I am working hard to close this gap. We have set up Science Industry Partnership for the West Midlands – an industry led group that is addressing the skills gap and exploring how STEM businesses can create a pipeline of talent. We have invested in the West Midlands Health Technology Cluster and we have funded the Precision Health Technologies Accelerator on the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus. We also have a brilliant female scientist who sits on our Board of Non-Executive Directors – Ewa Truchanowicz. It’s important that we celebrate those women who have chosen STEM as a career.
You can also find out more about Ada Lovelace by heading here https://findingada.com/
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