UK on course to have 1 million women in core STEM roles

DataIQ News

The UK is on track to have one million women working in core STEM roles by 2020, according to new research by WISE - the campaign for gender balance - but the tech industry is being urged to do more to promote careers in the sector.

The study 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.

It was released at the organisation's annual awards, which recognise inspiring individuals and organisations who are actively working to promote STEM to girls and women and drive change. Costain, Network Rail, and EDF Energy were among those companies recognised.

WISE chief executive Helen Wollaston 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.”

WISE also wants to see an increase in the proportion of girls choosing maths, physics, computer science and engineering, as well as making it easier for women who did not study these subjects at school, college or university to obtain the relevant qualifications later in life.

But with women representing just 16% of those in IT, WISE chair and Microsoft managing director Trudy Norris-Grey admitted that the technology industry is not making the progress that is being seen elsewhere in STEM sectors.

She said: "Faced with a huge growth in demand for technology skills in every sector of the economy, we have to increase the number of women working in tech or face a severe skills shortage. We don’t want women to lose out on future jobs and nor can business afford to lose out on their talents and contribution.”