Blog by Kathryn Nawrockyi Director, Opportunity Now
In case you’ve missed it on Twitter, today is Ada Lovelace Day. Named after the woman who’s often described as the world’s first computer programmer, its aim is to increase awareness of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields and to encourage young women to pursue careers in this area. Whilst it’s great to recognise what women in STEM have done, it’s also important that we look to the future.
We know that women continue to be vastly underrepresented in STEM careers, making up just 13 per cent of the STEM workforce, and that there is an ongoing struggle to attract girls to pursue STEM subjects. In this year’s A-level results, one of the most quoted statistics was that girls made up only 20 per cent of physics entries, despite a continuing increase in entries for STEM subjects. But th girls also outperformed their male counterparts by 5 per cent. The latest CBI survey shows that almost 40 per cent of companies are struggling to recruit the STEM skills they need; coupled with an ageing STEM workforce, it’s vital that organisations capitalise on the pool of female talent available.
There has been some progress – the British Science Association currently has its second female president in a row, as well as a female chair and vice-president. And work is ongoing to attract girls to continue studying STEM subjects through initiatives such as Little Miss Geek, DigiGirls and the Crest awards, and through organisations’ own efforts such as Opportunity Now Award winner BAE Systems’ Skills Strategy. Now we need to make sure that those efforts continue beyond school and university, and that businesses are able to increase the number of women they attract and retain in STEM careers, which Opportunity Now will continue to support as part of our key aim to reach gender parity in all sectors.