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​Why we believe the future needs more women in STEM

​Why we believe the future needs more women in STEM

12th Aug 2021

It's the second in our series of blogs looking at our sponsorship of students at the University of Leeds. Our focus has been on supporting students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths). But it's been notoriously difficult to encourage young women and female-identifying people into these subjects. We believe that this means companies are missing out on huge potential pools of talented employees.

We all need talented young minds, regardless of their gender. In this blog, we're focusing on what we're doing to try and break down the barriers to women in STEM.

STEM isn't always popular amongst young women

Our world is increasingly reliant on technology. Whether it's innovative ways to use resources more sustainably, or to connect people around the world, we need solutions to make our future viable. For companies operating in the STEM space, it's vital to get the best talent into those jobs. It's also important to have a diversity of outlook, to avoid groupthink and develop new innovative solutions for the world's problems. Yet companies in the sector are in danger of excluding half the population from even considering a career in STEM, given obstacles to encouraging women into tech.

Lack of confidence is a major barrier. While poll data varies hugely, several studies have shown that women didn’t study STEM subjects because they didn’t think they could. What’s more, many women in the STEM sector but not currently in technical job roles said they didn’t have appropriate qualifications to move within companies. That makes in important to encourage women into STEM subjects at university. More favourably, though, there are more women seeking a career in STEM. In 2019, data from HESA derived from the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey showed that the proportion of females in the UK's STEM workforce had risen to 24%. Read more here

How sponsorship can help - academically and beyond

Encouraging more women to study STEM subjects at university can help to break down those barriers further. UCAS data available for 2017-18 showed that women constituted 35% of current students in STEM subjects at UK universities. Taking one step back, it's also critical to remove as many obstacles as possible to women attending university in the first place. The Sysmax scholarship supports women in STEM. Since getting involved five academic years ago, we've already helped one young woman complete a maths degree. And we're currently supporting a female computer science student.

We had some really positive feedback from our maths graduate: “Your generosity has allowed me to take advantage of many opportunities and make the most of my first year at university by making new friends, trying new things, and falling even more in love with maths.”

Beyond academic study, too, there is much that helps put feet on the ladder. “Whilst completing my A-Levels I thought the main benefit of University would be gaining a degree. This year especially has taught me that whilst the academic qualification I will have at the end of my time in Leeds is important, the knowledge I have gained, the experiences I have had, and the opportunities provided to me will have a greater impact on my life.”

Do you want to fund a future with more women in STEM?

We'd encourage others to meet the challenge of encouraging more women into STEM subjects at university and STEM careers, especially those from less-advantaged backgrounds. With support from individuals and companies, the University of Leeds can help to level the playing field. Students supported by scholarships out-perform their peers. From the university's own statistics, 88% of undergraduate scholars left with a First or Upper Second degree in 2019 (compared to 86% of total students).

And as our maths graduate scholar put it: “Being a recipient of the Sysmax Scholarship allowed me to make Leeds my home and become a part of the University of Leeds in ways I never thought I would have the confidence to.”

Whether you're an individual or represent a corporate entity, you can find out more about the University of Leeds scholarship programme here.

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To find out more about why Sysmax is so committed to supporting women in STEM and the importance of a talent pipeline that's blind to gender, contact one of the team today.

Post by Marc Bates, Head of Marketing, Sysmax

Marc leads the marketing and communication strategy at Sysmax and oversees the development of our website. Marc’s focus is on demonstrating the rich history of the Sysmax team, and how together they have developed products that resolve real-world issues for businesses, improving performance and reducing risks.