It’s a fact not yet universally acknowledged, that women in data and tech are severely underrepresented in the UK workforce. In fact, data from the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) revealed that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe – less than 10% (for comparison, Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead wth 30%). WES also found that only around 20% of A Level physics students are girls, which is a figure that’s barely changed in 25 years. And the social enterprise Stemettes revealed that the percentage of females in the UK science, tech, engineering and maths workforce (STEM) amounts to around just 21%. (Say whaaat?)
This all makes for some pretty sobering reading, especially when you also realise that gender diversity is totally crucial for innovation; it encourages different perspectives and ideas that drive change and creative solutions. Companies are crying out for it, but due to many societal and structural barriers, it can often be harder for women to gain access to these positions. At the moment however, there’s more awareness than ever before around the importance of a female-populated workforce. Right now for example, O2 are *very* interested in hiring more women for the data and tech sector of their grad scheme, which offers a competitive £30K salary and loads of other amazing benefits in a supportive, fast-paced work environment. (You can check it out here before it closes on Jan 8th). But even if you don’t end up applying to work for O2, there are loads of reasons why a career in data, tech or any other area of STEM is a fantastic idea. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider it, below…
1. You’ll be helping run the world & shape a better global economy
Who run the world? Girls (and women), of course. There’s a heap of evidence to suggest that women’s participation in the STEM sectors could encourage economic growth worldwide and promote gender equality. In fact, if women were given the same opportunity as men in the global workforce, it would add trillions to the annual global economy. This is a figure reported by McKinsey who note that; “in a full potential scenario in which women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025.” Blimey. Demand for computer scientists and data analysts is expected to peak by 2025 according to the Council on Foreign Relations, so if you make your talented self available, you can expect big wages to go with the huge demand.
2. Your skills are appreciated by employers
Gemma Taylor-Jones who obtained a place on O2′s Data Analytics grad scheme said she’s been made to feel very welcome at work in what is a very male-dominated area. She said: “The role has been easy to settle into for me. The guys I work with are very friendly, supportive, and fun to work with, so it has been a smooth process really.” Employers such as O2 are often aware that some female applicants may be concerned about an uneven gender balance in their workforce, and so often have schemes and processes in place to ensure minorities are well looked-after and that the work culture is an inclusive one. Remember, everyone brings a different skill-set and personality to the table and your individuality is what makes you particularly in-demand.
Gemma also added that she found the application process for her role particularly straightforward; “O2 was much simpler than other companies, in my opinion. Initially, it was a CV and cover letter, followed by online tests. And if you passed those, it was just a video interview – the worst bit because you were just talking to a computer screen, and couldn’t gauge any emotion to my answers! Then came along the assessment day, which was relaxed, meaning the interviews were less daunting, and could focus on the tasks at hand better. Overall, I found the application process a very pleasant one.”
3. STEM pays *very* well
As technological demands continue to shape the workforce, those who work in these industries will often find that they’re rewarded handsomely. The average UK wage currently sits at around £28K, but according to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Data Analyst sits at £30k, and that of an engineer is almost £34K! Hands up if you’re even more interested right now?
4. A career in STEM is rewarding and exciting
Working in STEM will allow you to help develop new and exciting technologies like robotics and augmented reality that will have huge impacts on the future of the world. As Ana-Rosa Broster from O2 wrote in a previous blog post on being a woman in tech, studying STEM subjects creates a lot of opportunities. “STEM can give you the opportunity to have a very varied and exciting career from the ever changing telecommunications and digital arena to the fast-paced world of Formula 1″ she previously told us. “With a STEM education you can go into in any sector… Archaeology, history, government, and education – these are just some of the unexpected areas that need scientific expertise.” Ana also advised that young women looking to work in this area should seek a mentor for guidance. “A mentor will help you see what it’s like to have such careers, what you should study, and give you some perspectives.”
5. You could help close the gender pay gap
No pressure of course, but applying for a career in STEM could help close the gender pay gap and boost women’s cumulative earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years, which in turn could speed up global economic development, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. They also argue more women in these industries could help promote gender equality worldwide, too. Of course you working in STEM roles as a woman won’t single-handedly solve the all these world’s economic disparities, and it is most definitely up to employers to make extra effort to recruit women, but it’s nice to think your presence alone could have a positive impact…
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Advice for future engineers