It’s by no means a secret that there’s a shortage of women in the UK holding jobs in STEM fields. The House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee recently pointed out that it was ‘astonishing’ how under-represented women were in these industries.


It’s therefore little wonder that people are sitting up and taking notice of what is a universally recognised problem, one that is fraught with financial implications and could ultimately prove detrimental to the global economy.

As a result, there are steps being taken by universities, research centres and professional organisations on a worldwide scale to attract more women into careers in sectors such as finance, manufacturing, IT and construction.

STEMinism UK, targeted at female undergraduates who have a passion for technology and are seeking STEM placements and internships, invited young women into Vodafone’s head offices earlier this month. This one-day event allowed participants to get a real feel for the company culture and provided a great springboard for a host of other events taking place through the UK in 2014:

Manchester Girl Geeks host regular events that allow women in STEM to share their passions and interests. The next event is an evening of lightning talks to celebrate International Women's Day 2014. This will take place from 6pm on March 12th at ThoughtWorks Offices, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza and provides a perfect opportunity for women who want to study/work in IT or simply share their own personal journey.

The Women in Science Festival will be hosed in The University of Dundee, in Scotland, from March 1st to 24th and will feature lectures from a selection of women, including professors that are well-established in the STEM industries.

There they will explore many issues; from their professional drives and gender stereotyping, to championing equality agendas, academic glass ceilings and the motivation behind their work.

National Women in Engineering Day takes place in the UK on June 23rd and was set up by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary. WES aims to use this day to focus attention on the great opportunities for women in engineering, at a time when it has never been more important to address the engineering skills shortage. It believes that encouraging girls into engineering careers will not only increase diversity and inclusion – a business imperative – but enable future job opportunities that have been predicted in this sector.

The idea behind National Women in Engineering Day is to encourage all groups, be they governmental, educational, corporate or professional engineering institutions, to organise their own events in support of the day.

WiSET (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) is an ongoing project that’s part of Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for science Education. Its primary aim is to widen the participation of under-represented groups in STEM.

WiSET believes that the numbers of girls choosing STEM careers in the UK is inadequate and that trying to produce a 'one size fits all' approach is doomed to failure. Instead the group believes that every individual can make a positive difference in making STEM more inclusive and that if everyone tries to take some responsibility for this it will change the landscape and culture of STEM for the good of the whole population.

While it’s heartening to see that events like this are helping to leverage support for this issue, as well as highlighting the problem of STEM shortages, recruiters can help in the short-term by assisting organisations in sourcing diverse, hard to find talent.

More also needs to be done by the government, schools and businesses to aid this process. This includes visiting schools to encourage young girls to veer towards science and maths subjects, while educating them about the merits of opting into a STEM career.

Other options entail organising a lecture, networking event or open day aimed specifically at children and their parents and inviting inspirational key speakers from STEM fields.

Taking these steps now will hopefully lead to a sea change, with women gaining an ever more secure foothold in STEM industries, thereby ensuring a healthy, equable and stable economy for generations to come.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.