Women in STEM: ‘overmentored and undersponsored’

Women in the STEM industry are overmentored and undersponsored, according to a new report which says more needs to be done to engage with female students at school to encourage them to consider a career in STEM

Education STEM


The 2018 “Bridging the Gender Gap in STEM” report by business support network Forward Ladies found only 4 percent of women surveyed have been sponsored in the last two years.

Sponsoring differs from mentoring in that a sponsor doesn’t only advise someone. They actively promote, protect, prepare and push them to advance their careers.

The report is based on a comprehensive study sponsored by GKN Aerospace, NG Bailey, Ada the National College for Digital Skills, BASF, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water. It was developed to gain insight into the experiences of women working within the STEM sector across the UK and around the world.

It is based on 1,653 male and female participants working in STEM. This year, it also includes a ‘STEM for Juniors’ insert, a version of the findings and interviews aimed at 8-14 year olds. With a quiz and a ‘What is STEM?’ section, the aim is to spark an interest in STEM subjects, to inspire the next STEM generation.

Calling for greater engagement at an early stage, the report finds that external STEM ambassadors only inspired 2-3 percent of participants, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Griselda Togobo, CEO of Forward Ladies, said: “It is well documented that most women face unfair challenges in the workplace and the STEM sector is no different in that sense. What is alarming, however, is the lack of progress over the past decade – despite the numerous initiatives in place to encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects – the increasing exodus of women out of the sector is still present.”

She added: “With women making up just 14.4 per cent of the STEM workforce, it is no surprise that biases persist, especially in industries where the gender split is unbalanced. We need to create a strong pipeline of female leaders for the future, in order to do this, we need to tackle stereotypes on a daily basis.”

Other findings include the fact that there is a significant pay gap between white women and women of other ethnic backgrounds. The report calls on employers to make better use of apprenticeships and to ramp up returner programmes.

Forward Ladies has created a diversity roadmap tool that organisations can use to benchmark themselves against for diversity and inclusion to determine the next steps they need to take to progress.

A full version of the report, including STEM for Juniors, can be downloaded at www.forwardladies.com/stem-survey-report

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