Where have all the women gone? Why the lack of women in STEM is hurting our economy


The UK is facing a drastic shortage of skills within the STEM industries. ‘The State of Engineering’, report issued by Engineering UK has projected that the shortage of skills in STEM fields could cost the UK economy up to £27bn a year! Companies need to be hiring 182,000 engineers annually until 2022 - where are they going to find these engineers?

Encouraging more females into the industry is one way that the government can bridge this gap. It seems our failure to inspire girls into this field is directly hurting the economy and also cutting us off from a pool of potential talent. Female engineers will also bring into practice a diversity of ideas and solutions just by virtue of having a different perspective and experience of life.

At Forward Ladies we certainly believe that a joined up approach is the way forward in increasing female representation in the STEM fields. The lack of females in this vital area is a national problem and rectifying it requires support from parents right through to teachers and the employers who will be working with women who follow this career path.

Being one of the few girls in my peer group who studied physics, mathematics and chemistry myself, I ended up abandoning the dream of a life-long career in engineering due to various reasons - some of which related to the working environment and the prospects of progression within the industry, which is highly male-dominated and has a reputation of not being family friendly.

At Forward Ladies, we are committed to showcasing existing role models working in STEM through our national Women in Business Awards. We are also working with employers in these fields who want to develop and retain their women alongside looking at strategies to attract young girls and women to work in their industries and organisations.

by Griselda Togobo


  • Great to see Forward Ladies taking up the cause. Last week's A level results showed the scale of the challenge - around 21, 000 more boys than girls did A level maths and physics. Fewer than 500 girls did the relatively new but fast growing subject of Computer Science, compared to nearly 5,000 boys. Yet IT professionals are going to be the biggest growth area in terms of jobs, according to a July report from the UK Commission on Employment and Skills. Our education system is letting girls down by not showing them that doing science, maths and computing will open doors to a well paid, exciting and worthwhile career. Join us on 8 September at the National Media Museum for the launch of a revolutionary new approach to show girls that STEM is for people like them

    Helen Wollaston, Director, WISE Campaign

  • Griselda says:

    We are passionate about supporting women in male dominated fields and the representation of women in the STEM sector is worrying. It seems the work you are doing directly impacts the work we do and the numbers that feed through so I'm excited to find out more. I've signed up for the event on the 8th and look forward to meeting you Helen.


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