Number of women in STEM grows

The UK is on track to have one million women working in core STEM roles by 2020 according to WISE, the campaign for gender balance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.



The research shows that there are over 900,000 women working in STEM currently and an estimated 200,000 women with STEM qualifications will reach working age within the next two years. The news was announced at last night’s WISE 2018 Awards which recognise inspiring individuals and organisations who are actively working to promote STEM to girls and women and drive change. Costain, Network Rail, EDF Energy, and BAM Nuttall were among some of the companies who collected Awards.

Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive Officer for WISE, said: “We need UK employers to do more and follow the great example of our Award winners who are leading the way. They have managed to get more women into engineering and technology, removed barriers preventing women moving up through the ranks and seen the benefits of doing so in terms of improved business performance. The great news is that there are more women than ever before coming onto the labour market with engineering and technology qualifications. If employers manage to recruit just half of these women, the UK will have achieved a major milestone.”

She added: “There is a major opportunity for companies in the UK to step up their efforts to ensure they retain the women they already have in STEM roles, as well as opening doors for those who may want to retrain from other roles or return after career breaks. Employers can benefit from re-training women who already work for them, many of whom would jump at the opportunity to learn new skills and have a more interesting role with better pay and prospects.”

The WISE research also showed that the critical mass of 30% female employment is now within reach in several core STEM job roles, including physicists and planning technicians.

Other findings show:

  • Nearly 58,000 (12%) women are working as professional engineers, more than double the number in 2013.
  • There has been a 25% increase in the number of professional women engineers in a sector that grew 8.5% overall.
  • Women now make up 43.2% of the total science professional workforce.
  • 178,548 (16%) women are in ICT professional occupations.
  • An increase of 5,950 in the numbers of female specialist and project managers since 2017 even while male numbers have declined by 8,677 (excepting IT/telecommunications directors).
  • The year-on-year increase in female managers (17.4%) is outstripped by the increase in the numbers of women working in programming/software and web development roles (20.3%).
  • Although female numbers are increasing in IT professional roles, the numbers of men working in these roles are increasing at a faster rate, so the female proportion of the IT professional workforce is still only 13.6% in 2018. However, this is up from 11.1% in 2014.

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