Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Posts Tagged ‘women’

The increasing demand for STEM graduates: a shortage or a recruitment failure?

In Info on 2015/09/01 at 10:18 am

My student Andrew Craik has spent the past year investigating the perceived shortage of STEM talent by industry and why STEM graduates are so inclined to work in occupations that are not related to their degree.

“Although evidence suggests that there is a high demand for qualified STEM graduates in core STEM areas, why do so many still stray to different sectors?”

Andrew concludes that there is no shortage of STEM talent entering the pipeline at university, it is how they are treated throughout their university life what influences their career choices and, sometimes, a large number of drop-outs to other industries. Low numbers of females studying STEM (Engineering in particular) subjects exacerbate the problem of not enough graduates available for Industry (45% of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) members declare there is a serious problem with the supply of STEM graduates (Phillips, 2013)).

The main three reasons are:

  • A realistic and perceived salary shortage in a traditional STEM career which creates an interest shortage from candidates
  • A self-inflicted shortage imposed by recruiters, in particular STEM Industries who produce far less attractive graduate offers than non-STEM recruiters (eg Financial services)
  • The fallacy of the 2:1. Staff screening applications are not often qualified to appropriately judge the level of technical expertise of the candidates and refer to artificial thresholds such as the 2:1 or degree awarding university. In most cases these are irrelevant to the reality of the role.

Andrew recommends:

“The shortage comes from these barriers imposed on the graduate market and unless there is a dramatic change in the influx of students studying STEM subjects at A-Level and subsequently University, employers must deal with the problem directly. Whether this means putting more resources into their recruitment, increasing graduate salaries, moulding more interesting graduate jobs, creating more engaging graduate schemes or considering students with a 2.2 in a reputable course from top universities then actions need to be taken sooner rather than later.”


Ingenious Women

In Info on 2010/11/22 at 10:02 am

The UKRC for Women in SET and the Royal Academy of Engineering are running a media training program for 30 hand-picked women engineers. It is called ‘Ingenious Women’

I had the privilege to be selected in August for that, and we are already half way through the program.

As part of the media training, we write blogs about our activities, our daily lives as females in a male dominated professional world and our interests and motivations.

I have written two blogs already, and these can be found here and here.

I would love to hear what you think and, please, feel free to comment below!

‘Does Sex Matter Any More? Gender Segregation at Work’ at Scottish Parliament

In Comment on 2010/06/18 at 2:54 pm

A small group of high profile public figures gathered last evening for a session at the Scottish Parliament, in Edinburgh. The discussion was around the barriers that are hindering more girls to study engineering and science and, even more important, why there is such a large drop out as their careers progress.

One of the figures that struck me the most was the 5% female students in undergraduate (UG) engineering studies 25 years ago (personal statement by Dr Sandra Cairncross, Dean of Engineering, Computing & Creative Industries which coincides with the figures i provided on the current situation in Mechanical Engineering.

Engineering studies are particularly bad at attracting female students. This is not the case in Science (e.g. Biology or Physics). Despite almost parity percentages male:female in UG studies, e.g. 30% in Physics, 50% in Biology, these percentages drop by the time people progress into postgraduate or PhD studies, and it is even lower at post-doc researcher stage. The percentages are as bad as in Engineering when comparing female chairs in academic deparments.

Both the Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Jim Mather, and Alison McInnes MSP draw our attention to the barriers that female encounter when they access power position and enter board rooms. Although being common knowledge, there is not a drive from Industry or Academic Senior management to tackle those issues.

Many in the group still address difficulties in balancing work and life and long working hours as main hurdles. However, recent research is starting to bring light to the key issues: lack of supporting networks and mentoring. See this article by Jennifer Hunt, ‘Why do women leave Science and engineering’.

The event was organised and facilitated by the Scottish Resource Centre, based at Edinburgh napier University. The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), with its Scottish Centre, is the government agency whose remit is to lobby for parity and ‘fair play’ in the job market.


UKRC for Women in SET:

Scottish Resource Centre for Women in SET:  LinkedIn group