21 Nov Breaking UK tech’s gender divide
Women now outnumber men at undergraduate level in medicine and the biological sciences. But in the physical sciences, the pattern is different: according to Ucas, only 23% of students starting physics degrees in 2016 were women, while for engineering, the figure was 17%. Women also leave science and engineering careers in greater numbers than men: only 1 in 8 of those in engineering occupations, and less than 1 in 10 of those in an engineering role within an engineering company, are women.
It matters for two reasons, says Helen Wollaston, chief executive of Wise, a campaign to attract more women into science and engineering. The first is the impact on women themselves: the difference in starting salaries between Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-Stem graduates can be as much as £6,000. The second is the skills crisis: “If we can’t get more people in this country with the skills to meet those vacancies, then jobs will go overseas, where there are more people with those qualifications.”