Engineering UK stated in June 2021 that women make up 14.5 percent of all engineers. This represents 25.7% net growth since 2016, significantly higher than the 4.6% increase in the general workforce. In terms of overall numbers, 186,000 more women were working in engineering in 2020 compared to 2016.
What Has Changed For Women In STEM?
More women are choosing to work in fields connected to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This is a beneficial development, as these fields have traditionally been dominated by men, in part due to unhelpful gender preconceptions that posed insurmountable barriers to entry for many women.
1. Gender Stereotypes Are Finally Being Challenged
Between 2010 and 2019, 31% more girls chose STEM disciplines as A-Level subjects. Naturally, this has had a positive knock-on effect on university statistics, with the number of women accepting undergraduate university courses in STEM areas increasing by 50.1 percent from 2011 to 2020. However, this isn’t the only reason why gender diversity is improving and more women are opting to pursue careers in engineering.
2. The Sector Is No Longer A One-Track Discipline
Career paths in STEM were once highly prescriptive; however, as the industry has evolved, addressing emerging global issues now requires the application of both creative and technical problem solving skills. With widespread recognition of the growing environmental impact of the digital industries, there is a need for creative, scientific and engineering-led solutions to mitigate these negative effects. This requires talented, multi-disciplinary STEM talent, meaning there’s never been a better time for women to pursue careers in engineering.
3. Employers Now Recognise The Importance Of Diversity
Over the last decade, it has become clear that diverse workforces are more intelligent and innovative. As employers recognise the importance of hiring a diverse workforce, women represent one of the core demographics who are being provided with more opportunities to showcase their knowledge and skillsets in ways that will drive meaningful change. For example, Credit Suisse conducted an analysis of more than 2,000 global businesses and discovered that those which had at least one woman on the board secured higher net income and higher return on equity. Another study looked at more than 4,000 companies in Spain and concluded that those with more women in their R&D teams were more likely to effectively deploy new ideas.
Women represent one of the core demographics who are being provided with more opportunities to showcase their knowledge and skillsets in ways that will drive meaningful change.
Women make STEM more creative and imaginative, as evidenced by the research above, indicating that longheld preconceptions have no place in modern workplaces.
4. STEM Is Hugely Rewarding
Many STEM jobs offer high job satisfaction levels because they allow employees to make a genuine difference in a variety of ways. Additionally, STEM roles frequently demand a combination of technical and innovative skills, which means that professionals have the opportunity to explore a range of ideas that could shape the future in innumerable ways.
5. The STEM Boundaries Are Constantly Expanding
As STEM skills become more integral to an array of different sectors, workforces need fresh talent from all backgrounds to fill key roles and create robust solutions. Women make STEM more creative and imaginative, as evidenced by the research above, indicating that long-held preconceptions have no place in modern workplaces.
Clearly, there is still much to be done; however, the ripple effects even the smallest changes are having on the STEM sector cannot be understated.