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UK worst in Europe at attracting women into STEM industries

Press Release
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The scandal of an internal memo sent by a Google employee, stating that “preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership” sparked major backlash and led to the employee being sacked. It could be argued that, with a top technology company seemingly having this mindset, then it’s understandable why women aren’t applying for or being attracted to tech and engineering roles.

But, is this divide between women and men in STEM jobs the same in every country around the world? Throughout the whole of Europe, the UK currently has the lowest number of women working in engineering; only 8.7 percent of the 640,300 strong engineering workforce are women. This equates to just 55,706 females in total. When we compare these figures to teachers as an example, we can see that females in the UK are not shy when it comes to education-related roles as almost three out of four school teachers are female and four out of five school employees are female. So, why is there so few a number of women in engineering?

In a stark comparison to the UK, Latvia has the highest percentage of female engineers with 30 percent of their 19,600 strong engineering workforce made up of women. Looking towards the other side of Europe, it’s a tight competition between who’s leading the way with the amount of female engineers in France and Luxembourg, as 16.8 percent of France’s engineering workforce are women compared to Luxembourg’s 16.7 percent. However, Luxembourg’s female engineer statistics are, overall, more impressive out of the two countries as they have an engineering workforce of just 5,700 compared to France’s 73,500.

What do HR professionals need to learn?
Countries including Bulgaria and Romania are successfully employing more women in tech than any other European country, so what do we need to be doing to increase diversity and equality in the workplace?

By employing more women in a workplace, more women are likely to want to join the company; you’ll be showing that you believe in gender equality and recognise the advantages of having diversity and a variety of talents and personalities in the workplace. A survey found that whilst there isn’t many difference in terms of skills in the workplace, “women bring empathy and intuition to leadership.” This highlights that when it comes to how successful your business is, your employees’ gender will have no negative impact on their skillset, but women are able to bring a different and positive dimension to how a company is run.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen more and more women speaking out and talking to the media about sexual harassment they’ve suffered from in order to stop sexism both in the work and outside of it. This highlights the extent of sexism that is occurring in the workplace and, by encouraging more females to work in male dominated jobs and for them to be clearly treated equally to their male colleagues, we could see these sobering cases of harassment and abuse being reduced.

Who is leading the way to make a difference to the future of women in STEM?
Commenting on the future of women within the tech and engineering industries, Marianne Culver, president of RS Components, says: “The future of women in engineering can be very bright so long as women don’t feel outgunned and start to realise, why shouldn’t it be me? I could do this!” Wise and Women in STEM are continuously creating campaigns, strategies and tactics to help banish the gender gap problem prevalent in STEM sectors with the overall goal to achieve a gender balance.

Ultimately, the more companies we see visibly working to improve gender equality in the workplace and the more campaigners we see striving to abolish the stereotypes of women in engineering, the more difference we will make.