What is International Day of Women and Girls In Science?
International Day of Women and Girls In Science is a United Nations recognised day, created during the inaugural World Women’s Health and Development Forum held on 10-11th February 2015.
The day was created to reflect the global inequalities in female development in the academic and industrial fields of science, and celebrate the importance and benefits of greater female participation.
This year’s event is not just recognising the role of women and girls in science as beneficiaries, but also as agents of change – calling on women and girls to utilise their positions in business, politics and other walks of life in order to accelerate greater equality and diversity in the sciences.
What are the current challenges for female science professionals in business?
While a number of industries show a growing female workforce, sectors like finance, engineering and tech are still strongly male-dominated. In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based industries women make up less than 15% of the UK’s current workforce.
Gender bias is also a big issue, with women who are in or want to position themselves for leadership, often feeling under greater scrutiny than their male peers.
Women who do succeed to higher positions in companies, also find that they have smaller salaries, as they are less likely to negotiate for higher income with 68% accepting salaries straight away as opposed to 50% of their male counterparts.
Why is Women in Science Day important for businesses?
By accepting these barriers and challenges, businesses are allowing for less opportunities for innovation, bigger skills gaps and narrower market opportunities:
- Greater opportunities for innovation
Greater diversity in all industries has been shown to foster greater creativity and innovation. Regardless of the business you work in, men and women will have different experiences and backgrounds that shape their approach to business. This helps to breed a challenging and collaborative culture of people who think differently and promotes innovative ideas being recognised and adopted.
A lack of diversity in science-based roles is a huge challenge currently in the fields of digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering. Key areas that are likely to play a greater part in ongoing business trends such as digital transformation and a shift to more sustainable methods of business. Improving diversity, and therefore improving the potential of innovative thought will be key to business competitiveness moving forward.
2. A smaller chance of talent gaps
STEM occupations are projected to become the fastest growing area of demand for business and it’s important that potential women employees feel empowered to gain the skills and fill these roles that businesses will need in the future. Without this involvement from businesses, many will find they are losing competitiveness in a world that is more-demanding on these skill sets.
3. Opportunity for larger consumer markets
Women contribute in excess of $20 trillion in consumer spending every year accounting for 85% of consumer purchases (a bigger growth market than China and India combined). Yet with under 20% of creative directors in advertising being women, many feel undervalued and underserved by the marketplace.
By better utilising the insight of both men and women in your company there is great opportunity to make your products and services more marketable and profitable. In fact, gender-diverse businesses are 15% more likely to outperform financially about the industry median.
How can my business play its part in improving female access to science careers?
At Birmingham City University, there are many opportunities to influence and engage with female professionals at the early stage of their careers through the professional mentoring programmes.
However, if you are looking for direct ways of identifying skills gaps in your business and recruiting women to fill these roles, Higher Level Skills Match service can help you do that through its account managed and free solution.
In summary, it’s important for businesses to not just dismiss these events, and really consider the importance of them to their business, and how to get ahead of the curve before they miss out.