The initiative offers small to medium enterprises (SMEs) operating within the STEM sector the opportunity to showcase good practice in relation to equality and diversity. Companies can also sign up to participate in a free-to-use online self-assessment tool and one-to-one consultation support which will identify manageable and incremental steps employers can take to improve gender balance within their business.
With a rapidly growing STEM sector across Europe, and employers reporting significant skills shortages, it is vital that we look at ways to increase the participation of women in STEM.
The UK needs up to 185,000 more engineers by 2024 and there are 12,800 digital technology opportunities every year. However, women make up only 9 per cent and 18 per cent of the workforce respectively.
In addition to addressing the growing skills gap, there are robust business, legal and moral cases for improving gender diversity in companies. Where there are greater levels of diversity, companies experience greater returns on investment, equity and sales. Women’s equal participation in STEM is estimated to be worth £170 million to the Scottish economy annually.
There are a wide range of strategic interventions employers can make to encourage girls and women to pursue rewarding careers in STEM, and to remain and progress within them. These can include outreach activities in educational institutions, offering mentoring support in the workplace, and creating an attractive working environment through flexible working policies.
Companies participating in the ENGENDERING STEM project will receive a bespoke package of support to help improve gender balance in their workforce – this will include tailored recommendations for their company, as well as access to free resources, training and events.
Companies who have already taken steps to improve gender balance are invited to share their stories through case studies, which will be presented in the project’s series of ‘best practice’ guides and showcased to a European audience.