Today’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industry employers all know that there’s a disproportionate number of male vs. female employees in the workforce. The simple fact is there are fewer female STEM graduates than male STEM graduates. But why is this?
There’s been a lot of research into this question and a number of answers have been found. One reason noted by University of Washington psychology professor Sapna Cheryan is that women fear to study STEM subjects because they feel like they won’t fit in.
Unfortunately, it seems that the social stereotype that STEM subjects are for male students has strongly influenced the decline in female STEM students. This is an issue that employers need to address if they want to maintain a gender-balanced workforce. Communication is key; employers need to help re-educate the upcoming generation of female students and show them that a career in STEM is equally as attainable for them as it is for their male counterparts.
But how can employers help to bridge this growing gender divide in STEM careers? One way is to attend events that help to raise awareness of STEM careers among young female students.
A popular event targeting this demographic is IT’s Not Just For The Boys, a UK event run by Target Jobs that is designed exclusively for female students who want to find out more about careers in technology. The event gives young female students the opportunity to meet representatives from leading STEM organisations, find out about internships, work placements, and graduate positions, attend a panel discussion with leading female figures from top STEM organisations, and network and ask important questions.
Orbium attended the event last year alongside a number of other blue-chip companies, including IBM, Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, and Bloomberg. Events like this can help to change the way young female students view women in IT and encourage them to consider a STEM subject when choosing their career.
There is also a women power movement in the United States called Girls Who Code that aims to bridge the gap between men and women in the field of technology. They also aim to redefine the image of what a programmer looks like and does. With their activities and programs, they are leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities.
A lot more women want to get into technology and be as or even more innovative than men. This shows how IT is not just a man’s business, but a women’s business as well.
Orbium is proud to have a large number of female STEM graduates spread throughout its 11 offices.
We asked what their thoughts on what’s it like being a woman in IT. Cristina, a London-based IT consultant, said the following:
IT is a very challenging environment regardless of gender, however, as a woman trying to succeed in IT, my greatest fear has been not being able to ‘make it’ in a field dominated by men.
When asked what’s the greatest she learned throughout her experience as an IT consultant, she answered: “I learned was that you never know what you’re capable of until you try, so I shifted my thinking from ‘Can I do this?’ to ‘Yes, I can!’”
But besides the support from the people close to her, Cristina commends her employer and work environment is open and equal to whoever comes in, “Orbium is the perfect example of an IT company that encourages women to succeed – and even lead – in the IT sector.”
Ife, another of our IT consultants, has been with Orbium since we opened our London office nearly five years ago. She offered the following advice for aspiring female STEM students to help them avoid focusing on the stereotype that STEM careers are for men:
In IT, an emphasis is placed on knowledge and abilities, not gender – or at least that has been my experience working for Orbium. IT is extremely dynamic and offers a number of different fields that will test and expand your skill set, regardless of your gender.
From the testimonials of our company, Orbium values all of its employees equally. Our core values are universal and gender neutral, and we have talented men and women in the ranks of our organisation, both in leadership roles and individual teams – a fact we are immensely proud of. Orbium will continue to support events designed to educate and encourage young female students into STEM subjects because we believe that a gender-balanced workforce is important and adds value to the company.