More women to be supported back into STEM careers

Credit: Getty Images/FG Trade
The UK government will launch a new scheme backed with £150,000 of funding to help women back into STEM careers after taking a career break

The UK government will launch a new initiative to encourage women back into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) based careers after taking a career break.

The initiative – backed by £150,000 of Government funding – will support women by providing them with the skills they need to succeed when reentering the workforce.

Minister for Women and Equalities, and Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch MP, says: “In the last decade we have seen more girls studying STEM subjects at school and university, but we know that too many women later drop out of those careers because they need to care for children or elderly relatives.”

By investing in women’s careers, Kemi hopes to “plug the STEM gap” while increasing workplace equality, and boosting the UK economy.

Why are women underrepresented in STEM?

The number of girls starting STEM A-levels increased by almost 30% between 2009 and 2020 in England, and the number of women starting STEM undergraduate courses increased by 50.1% between 2011 and 2020. However, in the same year, women made up only 29.4% of the UK’s STEM workforce.

“Minimising the skills gap in the tech industry has been a continuous challenge of recent years, holding back opportunities for development and growth among organisations,” Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer at FDM Group says. “With economic uncertainty causing unrest throughout the country, organisations should be promoting women in technology as the solution, providing opportunities and training in order to close the skills gap.”

“There remains a significant gap in representation between qualified men and women in tech. Now, there must be a universal push to offer mentoring, training and education opportunities to support women, helping plug the nation's gap in the sector while driving economic growth.”

Problems recruiting in STEM industries 

Recruiting for STEM careers is said to have its own challenges, with the UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013 sharing that 43% STEM vacancies are hard to fill. 

Yet there were approximately 75,000 individuals economically inactive due to caring responsibilities, being unemployed for 12 months or more, or who had career breaks by wanting to return to work. The research found that the majority of these potential returners are women.

“STEM jobs make up a large proportion of our economy, but there is a shortage in STEM employees and 75,000 STEM returners who want to get back to work,” Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield MP said. “We know there are women across the country who have left their jobs to care for elderly relatives or children, and want to return to work. 

“This pilot will help organisations to recruit those who are too often overlooked because of a gap on their CV.”


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