Project 28-40 Sector Insight: STEM

Executive Summary / Introduction

If you are serious about change, you as CEO's need to take the lead on women’s progression, moving this from a diversity initiative to a core business priority.

Without senior women, why would you think you can progress? You need to see them at all levels so you know you can be there too.

- Focus Group Participant

Create a truly agile organisation, with women and men able to work in a way that makes them productive and engaged.

Demonstrate visible leadership in tackling bullying, harassment and sexual harassment; send a clear message to all employees that poor behaviour should be called out and turn ‘zero tolerance’ policy into a reality. Provide informal methods of reporting.

Consult with women in your organisation about the changes they would like see to enable more women to succeed.

For the purposes of our analyis and report, we refer to this group of industries collectively as the STEM sector:  This includes, Construction, Manufacturing, Oil, Gas, Electricity, Water Supply, Waste Management, Scientific & Technical Services and Telecommunications / Information Technology.

Key Findings

  • Women in the STEM sector are just as confident and ambitious as men.  So why do more men than women reach senior leadership positions in this sector? 

  • Women in the STEM industries are frequently in the minority.  This combined with a lack of female role models compounds the pressure women feel to prove their proffessional worth.  It is evident that many enjoy the challenge of being a successful  woman in this challenging enviroment; however many more feel isolated and unsupported. 

  • Lack of role models.  There is a lack of women working at senior levels to inspire women to progress.  Women in STEM want to see male and female leaders talking positively about family, personal priorties and flexible work. 

  • 52% of women have experienced bullying and harassment in the last three years.  Sexual harassment is still rife in STEM industries - there is a distinct lack of reporting that needs to be addressed. 

  • Agile working is still not well understood in this sector.  Flexible workers are seen as less committed and less likely to progress at the same rate as their peers,  even if their input is similar. This can erode ambition,  and impact on career development and even reward