I read something this morning that left me slightly bewildered. According to The Guardian, ‘despite almost half (46%) of females considering a STEM career while at school, only 13% make it through to fulfilling their plans.’ Currently only 17% of jobs in the technology industry are held by women. Why?
While we are making progress in the technology industry to move away from gender stereotyping, the perception that boys are better at STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects still exists. Messages targeted at young girls by the media and TV shows also emphasise these thoughts, with very few shows promoting STEM or women in technology lead roles.
I firmly believe that the ability to inspire the next generation of girls in STEM lies with women who are leading a successful career in this sector. If young girls can visualise what their futures could be like in technology, and have clear role models, they will be more inclined to pursue a career in the industry.
According to recent studies, girls lose interest in STEM subjects by the age of 15. Inspiration and change starts in the classroom. Challenging outdated gender stereotypes at an early age is essential, which is why it would be a benefit to see women in STEM have more of an active role in education. The people that you know are a big influence on choosing your future career path.
The importance of role models
Vanessa Vakharia who runs ‘The Math Guru’ science and math tutoring studio and advocates for girls’ success in STEM said, ‘[there’s] a disproportionate number of girls that truly believe they don’t have the innate ability to understand math and science.’
There is no other way of addressing this problem than getting closer to education and mentoring children.
Supporting STEM initiatives
43% of vacancies in STEM roles are hard to fill due to a shortage of applicants with the required skills. To overcome this skills shortage it’s vital to support the development of the next generation.
I’m extremely passionate about encouraging the younger generation to pursue careers in technology, and through my role at Columbus, I have been able to deploy multiple successful apprenticeship and graduate schemes, but that’s only the beginning.
I strive to support as many initiatives as I can that equip children with the skills they might need in the future. Recently I was pleased to donate laptops to a local school who have introduced ‘Code Club’ as an extra-curricular activity, already; it has helped to spike an interest in technology as children can be more hands on.
Many of the Columbus team are invested in inspiring the next generation. One team member leads his own Code Club, and others are involved in knowledge sharing activities e.g. presentations at schools and when school children visit our offices to learn about career opportunities in STEM.
We can all lead the way to inspire and help young girls and boys to see what they are missing.... Why not grab a coffee and have a think about how you can make a difference!