Women ReCharge into STEM
The STEM sector has always been male dominated, rooted in boys being encouraged to study maths and science at school, whilst girls were directed towards studying languages and artistic subjects. Despite the fact that women have made real strides in the workplace, with female representation growing in a number of sectors, there is still a sizeable gap in women’s representation in STEM.
Recent data from the World Economic Forum states that whilst women account for almost half of the total number of people employed in non-STEM sectors, only 23.4% of women are employed within the STEM sector. Further, the data demonstrates that women are underrepresented in senior roles within STEM, with only 25.5% of women appointed in Manager roles and 17.8% women employed in Vice President roles.
In the UK, the number of women accepted into full-time STEM undergraduate courses at universities increased by 49% from 2010 until 2020. Applications from women looking to study computer science increased by 103% from 2012 until 2021. That being so, UCAS have recently published statistics which state that in 2017/2018, 35% of individuals studying core STEM subjects were female, the remaining 65% were male. Further, in 2019, only 26% of females were graduating with a degree in core STEM subjects. Against that backdrop, it is clear that whilst progress has been made, more needs to be done to encourage more women into STEM and bridge the gender gap.
The UK Government has recognised the disparity between women and men in STEM and has responded by announcing earlier this year that they will be launching a Government-backed training programme to support women into STEM jobs, known as STEM ReCharge. The scheme will also help employers as 43% of STEM vacancies are reportedly difficult to fill.
The ReCharge scheme will be run by Women Returners and STEM Returners and aims to support women who have a STEM background that took a step back from their careers to care for their children and/or elderly relatives. The scheme is currently piloting in the Midlands and North of England. The ReCharge scheme aims to encourage as many individuals in this position back to work, giving them the skills, tools and confidence to do so.
Employment Law Partner Dawn Robertson was a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Association (ELA) Working Party involved in the ELA’s consultation response concerning ‘Equity in the STEM Workplace: Call for Evidence’.
If you would like any more information regarding women in STEM, please do not hesitate to contact our team of dedicated employment lawyers.
This update contains general information only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.