As Equate Scotland celebrates a decade of promoting women in Stem industries, the first minister supports calls for more progress.
FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON, has backed a new report by the organisation Equate Scotland that demands more action to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) industries.
A survey conducted as part of the report showed that out of 1100 responses, over 70 per cent of girls, women, teachers and employers want regular talks in Scottish schools promoting Stem subjects to girls.
“We need a more inclusive Stem sector, not simply for the sake of the industry but for women, who are at risk of being shut out of the jobs of the future” Talat Yaqoob
Over two thirds of responses also wanted women’s Stem networks in universities and colleges and more flexible working structures to be built into industry jobs.
Sturgeon said: “Equate Scotland has done a huge amount of work over the past decade to encourage more women to study and pursue careers in Stem subjects. Their report shows that women are enthusiastic about opportunities in the sector but still face barriers.”
“That is why the Scottish Government has committed to developing a Stem strategy to inspire more young people to consider a career in Stem. It will also specifically consider how we can encourage and get girls enthusiastic about subjects like physics where they are currently under-represented.”
Equate Scotland has provided support to over 5000 women studying or employed in Stem subjects and industry jobs since 2006, and has worked with almost 300 Stem companies to improve their employment practices for women.
Comissioning the report, called ‘Rising To The Challenge’, Equate asked respondants what they thought could be done to imrpove representation of women in Stem industries. The figures showed that over half want dedicated science ambassadors allocated to schools in Scotland.
More than 3 in 5, 68 per cent, want women’s Stem networks in universities and colleges and above 3 in 5, 65 per cent, believe industry placements for women should become a standard part of all undergraduate degrees.
Fifty per cent said they would like to see a Scotland wide campaign initiated to promote Stem careers for women. Additionally almost half of all young people between the ages of 12 -17 years want to see girls’ only spaces in which to learn about Stem.
“Only 18 per cent of computing students and only 16 per cent of engineering students are women.” Talat Yaqoob
Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland said: “Only 18 per cent of computing students and only 16 per cent of engineering students are women. If Scotland is going to be a global competitor in Stem and create a sustainable Stem industry, this needs to change and quickly.
“We need a more inclusive Stem sector, not simply for the sake of the industry but for women, who are at risk of being shut out of the jobs of the future.
“What our research reveals is that women, educators and employers are eager for progress in this area.”
Equate Scotland cite the case study of Woodmill High school which has been working with Improving Gender Balance Scotland in order to empower students, teachers and parents to tackle stereotyping in subject choice and career pathways.
As part of the Shell’s Girls in Energy project a group of girls, from S4-S6, attended Fife College to observe and learn about work in the energy industries; a trip that culminated in each girl being awarded a National 5 skills for work unit.
Yaqoob continued: “We hope the report provides a roadmap of what can be done to make Scotland a world leader on Women in Stem and we look forward to continuing our work with the Scottish Government to make that happen.”
Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.