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Number of women in UK STEM roles passes 900,000

19 Nov The UK is on target to reach a million women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by 2020, according to new research by the campaign for gender balance in the sector.

There are currently more 900,000 women in core STEM occupations and 200,000 women with STEM qualifications will reach working age within the next two years, found the research by WISE. A critical mass of 30% female employment within reach in several core STEM job roles.

The Princess Royal, who is the patron of Wise, announced the figures at the campaign’s awards ceremony last week. The goal of reaching a million women in STEM is within reach if employers could recruit just half of the 200,000 thousand girls estimated to be studying STEM subjects, she said. 

WISE chief executive officer 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.

Wollaston continued: “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. This will also help with the gender pay gap.”

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