‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’ celebrates the achievements of the women and girls that all play a significant role in advancing scientific research & discovery, and encourages future generations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Despite progress in recent years, the number of women in STEM fields is still alarmingly low. Women are underrepresented in many areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and they face significant barriers to entering and advancing in these fields. These barriers include gender bias, lack of female role models, and a lack of support and resources.
Engineering is one such STEM field, which is still dominated by men. Simon Shergill, Engineering consultant, specialising in Transport Planning, recently spoke with Tiffany Lynch, a Transport Planning professional with nearly 40 years of experience.
Over the years, Tiffany has noticed that men most commonly dominate the Transport Planning sector, though she says this is slowly improving, there is still some ways to go:
‘Though Transport planning, as a STEM-related sector, has been changing steadily over the years, the engineering conferences I attend are still dominated by a lot of middle-aged men in grey suits. The relevant industry bodies need to look carefully at the way their sectors are portrayed externally, especially in schools, colleges & universities, and to young women.’
‘Too few young women are aware of the very wide range of fascinating career options available to them through studying STEM subjects. It would be great if these industry bodies would spend more time understanding young women as ‘career customers’ and gear their career messaging accordingly. Don’t just try and sell the career products you’ve got as you understand them. Think: why should young women want to opt in?’
When talking about what Engineering industry bodies can do to help improve gender equality in the field, Tiffany says:
‘I think transport planning-related issues should be embedded into the national curriculum. The sector has a wide range of STEM-related topic areas that provide opportunities for curriculum-supporting projects, problem solving and understanding principles through real life examples. It would certainly help students understand how what they’re learning could have interesting, real-life applications.’
‘For any woman ambitious to pursue a career in engineering, I would say that it’s important to realise the sheer range of career choices that STEM subjects provide paths into. Find someone who has been working in the areas of interest, perhaps through LinkedIn, and ask them about what they do and how they got there. Many women will be more than happy to help. They were in the same position a few years ago…’
When you look at people like Katherine Johnson and Margaret Hamilton and what they achieved, you feel proud to be a part of this special group within the Sciences.
Another STEM sector that has been historically male dominated is IT. Our specialist IT consultant George Ludlow spoke to Rochelle Charles, a Software Development Engineer, who also shared her experience of being a woman in in science:
‘As STEM sciences are constantly evolving, there’s always something new to get stuck into, and there’s never a dull moment; it’s really empowering being a woman in science. However, the tech industry is still dominated by men.’
‘I’d love to see more women in science. I think one of the many reasons why we don’t, is because we’re still feeling the effects of what “gendered roles” looked like historically, and women feeling like they can’t be successful in certain professions, which isn’t true. Women are very much playing catch-up, though, as men still sit in the majority of senior positions within tech and other STEM sectors. It’s essential that this changes, and it is slowly, as this diversity trickles down, positively impacting the wider structure of the field.’
‘I’m hopeful that each year, we’ll see greater numbers of women working in the sciences. I think more discussions about STEM careers at all ages, including schools, which highlight the impact of women in these roles, would really go a long way. There’s nothing more powerful than seeing someone who looks like you, doing something innovative and interesting. If they can do it, so can you!’
‘I’m proud to be a woman in science. When you look at people like Katherine Johnson and Margaret Hamilton and what they achieved, you feel even prouder, because you feel part of a special group within the Sciences.’
‘If you, too, are interested in pursuing a career in the sciences, I would recommend trying to get accepted onto an apprenticeship in your chosen field and look into getting the relevant qualifications. Find a mentor, learn tricks in your free time (Youtube has great, free tutorials), and put a portfolio together listing your skills. Believe in yourself. You can do it. Don’t be put off by the application process or rejections, just keep trying and it will happen.’
It's important to acknowledge and celebrate the many incredible women who have made significant contributions to science throughout history. From Marie Curie, who was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in different fields, to Rosalind Franklin, who played a crucial role in the discovery of the structure of DNA; women have been making ground-breaking contributions to science for centuries.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of female scientists. By highlighting the achievements of women in science and encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers, we can help to build a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.
It’s also an important reminder that women have always been, and continue to be, a vital part of scientific discovery and progress. We must work together to break down the barriers that prevent women from entering and advancing in STEM fields, and to encourage and support women & girls in pursuing careers in science. By doing so, we can ensure that the future of science is bright, inclusive, and reflective of the diverse perspectives and experiences of all people.
For anyone interested in a career in IT or Engineering, or looking to further their current experience, feel free to contact Simon or George on these details:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 07792579113
email@example.com | 07474 540571