Focus on 'opportunities' to encourage women into STEM

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Employers should focus on opportunities rather than fixating on challenges when encouraging women into technical careers

Employers should focus on opportunities rather than fixating on challenges when encouraging women into technical careers, according to Marilyn Morrison, HR director of software development consultancy Scott Logic.

“Unless you work in software, it’s hard to appreciate the opportunities which exist,” Morrison told HR magazine. “It’s not just about developing the software; it’s about the user experience, it’s about testing, or technical project management. There is progression and such an array of roles available."

She added: “The challenge is, only about 50% of female science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) graduates go on to work in the STEM industry, compared to about 68% of males. We need to look at what the proposition is for females.”

Morrison said that the way to encourage more women into STEM industries is to promote the wide variety of roles. “The future is in trying to sell the fabulous opportunities that are available within technology. We should be showing how we can change people’s behaviours with the type of work we do."

“Sometimes I think we need to turn around what the challenge is, and turn it into an opportunity,” she added.

Morrison’s words come as thousands of students across the UK are considering their options after receiving their GCSE results yesterday.

Richard Robinson, chief executive, civil infrastructure, EMEA and India, at AECOM, said that while the 37% rise in students taking engineering-related GCSEs is encouraging, the bigger picture “remains one of STEM stagnation”.

“With a stifled pipeline of STEM students and increasing industry demand for technical skills, it is critical the UK continues to offer world-class STEM education,” he said. “The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association reports that nearly a quarter of sixth form colleges (24%) have dropped STEM courses as a result of funding cuts. Given the importance of STEM subjects to a thriving economy, this is a worrying trend that could impact the numbers entering technical professions such as engineering."

“Funding for STEM subjects at sixth form and degree level should be raised, not reduced,” he added.

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