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Science careers face diversity challenge

30 September 2014

Recent research conducted by Westminster Business School for the Royal Society finds that only around 13% of people working in the science, technology, engineering, maths and medical (STEMM) workforce are women.

About the study

The research, entitled “Diversity in STEMM: establishing a business case”, was developed for the Royal Society’s Leading the Way programme to increase the diversity of STEMM – creating opportunities for women, minority ethnic and disabled people.

The study has been published in June by Westminster Business School academics Angela Wright, Elisabeth Michielsens, Sylvia Snijders, Leena Kumarappan, Michele Williamson, Linda Clarke and Peter Urwin.

Key findings

According to Angela Wright’s article for HRZone, most of the strategies adopted to provide access to STEMM careers are focused on increasing gender diversity, although some of the organisations researched did have ethnicity and disability initiatives.

Even so, the effectiveness of such initiatives must be questioned as only around 13% of people working in STEMM are women.

Solutions

Our academics suggest that the government, the Royal Society, professional bodies and employers act in a co-ordinated way to set standards and perhaps establish a centre of excellence to support employers wishing to increase the diversity of their workforce.

The research points to some critical actions and issues that employers need to take into account to increase gender, ethnicity and disability diversity, such as:

  • leaders of organisations must be fully signed up to the diversity agenda
  • ensure that diversity (or lack of it) is monitored carefully and then evaluated at a senior level

To read the full study, please visit the Royal Society website.


About the University of Westminster:

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