More needs to be done to represent women in STEM careers, finds OKdo

More needs to be done to represent women in STEM careers, finds OKdo

Research shows that greater visibility into societal benefits of IT is key to bridging the gap 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

More needs to be done to encourage women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), according to a recent study by technology firm OKdo.  

The study found that the number of female computer science students and women in STEM careers remains disproportionately low in the UK. For example, only 21 per cent of the 79,964 students that sat computer science GSCEs in 2021 were female. In addition, official UK labour market statistics from Nomis revealed that the number of women currently employed in STEM jobs is below half in most instances. Men hold most of the jobs across major STEM-related professions in the UK, with the exception of biological scientists, where women make up 52 per cent.  

However, progress has been made. The number of female computer science students has risen by 544 per cent since 2014 (up from 2,568 in 2014 to 16,549 in 2021), despite a two per cent drop from 2020 to 2021.  

“Computing provides great career opportunities to young people,” said Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. “We’ve seen increasing numbers studying it, as well as more teachers developing the subject knowledge and expertise to deliver an inspiring curriculum thanks to the support of the National Centre for Computing Education, launched in 2018. Great progress has been made, but more needs to be done, especially to encourage more girls and those from under-represented groups.”   

In a 2021 report on Women in Tech from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, 42 per cent of respondents said that greater visibility into the positive impacts that IT or technical skills can have within society would be an important driver in attracting them into the industry. The research also highlighted that female role models are key to attracting young women and bridging the gender gap; 38 per cent of respondents claimed that a lack of women in technology made them wary of entering the industry.   

“Our research highlights just how important it is that the number of students studying computer science at GCSE and beyond – and choosing this as a career - continues to gain momentum,” said Nicki Young, president of OKdo. “This is particularly important amongst female students who are still studying STEM subjects in low numbers but have proven themselves to be highly capable, typically achieving higher grades than male students. 

“We all have a responsibility to do more to showcase role model women in technology, and all areas of STEM, to inspire the next generation.”   

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