STEM includes the disciplines science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When it comes to STEM the old adage rings true, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Fields like tech and mechanical engineering are some of the fastest developing career fields in the world, but when it comes to diversity we still have a long way to go. In fact, it’s estimated that 17% of those employed in the technology industry and only 9% of engineers in the UK are female. Far lower than nearly any field outside of STEM industries. What does the future hold for women in the STEM industries and how can we inspire the next generation of women to get their start in tech and mechanical engineering?
When it comes right down to it, STEM has garnered a reputation for being a boy’s club and rightfully so. In spite of all the advancements women have made throughout history, it seems that some stigma still remains. This issues is far more widespread than just the UK; all over the world shy away from industries like tech, engineering, construction, and other male dominated fields. Women that do make it in these fields are somewhat viewed as novelties.
The solution is simple. Get women more involved in these industries until the “novelty” becomes the norm. The “how” isn’t quite as simple. The technology and engineering fields are often misunderstood; there are so many ways to be involved beyond the stereotypical data crunching powerhouse and schematics genius. Exposing more people to the sheer diversity of careers in these industries could go a long way to inspiring more women to take the leap.
Long before we begin to consider majors and lifelong career paths, we spend our time in grade school where we’ll receive the very foundation of our education. This is where many girls begin to lose their interest in STEM subjects. Finding a way to keep girls engaged in these topics could be the key to seeing the dismal rate or women in tech, engineering, etc bloom.
Though there is no shortage of opportunities for women in tech and engineering, the gender gap doesn’t look much closer to closing. Ultimately, it comes down to education. The responsibility to educate the UK workforce doesn’t lie solely on teachers. Power players and industry experts have to encourage women to apply.