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Sadhana Kalidindi, Vice President of University of Bristol’s Women in Science Society argues the need for more women in STEM.

A recent study called Jobs for the Future, commissioned by EDF Energy reports 640,000 jobs will be created in STEM-related careers by 2023 – 50,000 of these will be in the Bristol region alone.

The report showed that based on current figures, there will be a shortfall in the number of graduates available to fill these new roles, highlighting the critical need to encourage more women to pursue science and technology in order to fill the future skills gap. In addition, women are particularly underrepresented in the industries identified in the report as likely to see the most future job openings, such as in computing services, architecture and construction.

having the same number of women as men working in STEM fields in the UK would add an incredible £2 billion to the country’s economy

The ‘leaky pipeline’ analogy refers to the loss of women across STEM fields as they get older. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that the wage gap widens most dramatically after the birth of a first child – according to a survey by McKinsey & Co, women with similar career demands as their husbands continue to do a disproportionate amount of child care and housework.

Although this issue is one that is multi-faceted and largely influenced by both sociological and biological factors, there is no denying that it is time to hasten the pace of change when it comes to gender disparities in the workplace, if not only to secure our country’s future growth and prosperity. Studies have shown that having the same number of women as men working in STEM fields in the UK would add an incredible £2 billion to the country’s economy.

Girls at GCSE level consistently outperform their male counterparts in STEM subjects, but only a small proportion of them carry the subjects through to university level, meaning that some of the students with the most potential are being lost very early on. Organisations such as WISE and Soapbox Science work to provide young girls with role models they can relate to, helping to transform preconceptions they have as well as those of their teachers and parents.

Bristol University’s Women in Science Society is an exciting new society that aims to celebrate the achievements of women in science and encourage more young women to pursue higher education. The society runs an outreach programme, visiting primary schools across Bristol in order to give young girls a taste of what a degree and career in the sciences could look like.

Women in Science will also be launching a mentorship programme this year in which undergraduate science students can network and receive support from PhD and Masters students in their respective fields. We are always looking for new members to join our team, you can find us at @UOBWomeninScience on Facebook!


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