There are more women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) senior leadership and board roles than ever before. In fact, since 2016 the number of women working in STEM fields overall in the UK has increased, recently hitting over the 1 million mark for the first time ever.
More specifically, highlighting this progression for women across the sector, in 2021 we saw Sirisha Bandla, an Aeronautical Engineer from India go to the edge of space as part of the historic Unity 22 mission. She is now Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations for Virgin Galactic – a role that includes working with research customers to fly science and technology experiments on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip.
However, as executive search consultants who have been recruiting across the innovation, science and technology sectors for over 15 years, our view is these accolades need to accelerate and become more commonplace, as this still only equates to 24% of the STEM workforce in the UK made up by women (Women in STEM Statistics 2022). So, while positive change needs to be headlined and celebrated, it is happening slowly.
These factors are further linked to why having more women in leadership roles is so important to increase diversity, and the positive impact of increasing more women in leadership and board roles have on a business – in both the public and commercial sectors.
More women in leadership and management have a huge impact on diversity hires throughout the whole organisation. This is why any organisation that’s trying to turn the dial with regards to diversity should consider starting with executive and boardroom hires. Having more women in these executive level roles also leads to better role models for young women getting into STEM, especially those just entering the job market.
Whilst women continue to be underrepresented in STEM, given the current challenges and opportunities for the UK in the innovation and technology space, it is particularly important that we strive to hire more women into the top innovation and technology roles across areas such as advanced computing and applications, quantum technologies, robotics, future network communications and advanced engineering. These are some of the key skills areas of the future.
Having female leaders in positions of influence to serve as role models is not only critical to the career advancement of women, but also stands to generate broader societal impacts on pay equity, as well as change workplace policies in ways that benefit both women and men – and the UK more broadly.
If you’re struggling to attract more women to your roles and diversify your organisation’s workforce, please get in touch as this is something McLean Public can support you with.