Shifting the gender balance in STEM: a panel discussion to celebrate IWD

Shifting the gender balance in STEM:  a panel discussion to celebrate IWD
by Nandita Quaderi
Editor-in-Chief, Web of Science Group
IP and Standards

Today in the UK, only 24% of STEM roles are held by women. Improving female STEM representation is not just a social and moral imperative – there are financial benefits as well.  According to a recent report from McKinsey, ‘Delivering Through Diversity’[1], companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

Last week in London, we celebrated International Women’s Day with the event ‘IWD: Shifting the balance in STEM’. As a supporter of gender equality and advancement, Clarivate Analytics partnered with Ada Lovelace Day to present a panel discussion on the lagging participation of women in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and maths).

As Editor-In-Chief for the Web of Science Group working within the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) – and as a former scientist — it was an honour to moderate this event and spend time with our five distinguished panelists.  The discussion ranged from how to attract more young girls into STEM programs to how to encourage women to pursue STEM careers and increase female representation in senior leadership roles.

Our panelists included:

Liz Seward, senior strategist for Space Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. She is also the Chair of Women in Aerospace Europe’s UK group, bringing together women and men who are interested in supporting and getting involved in a more diverse and equal workforce within the space sector.

Timo Hannay, founding Managing Director of SchoolDash, an education technology company based in London that provides maps, dashboards, statistics and analysis on schools in England.

Yasmin Ali, chartered chemical engineer, writer and presenter. She was awarded the Women’s Engineering Society Young Woman Engineer award in 2013 and is passionate about promoting engineering stories and careers to the public and young people.

Bella Harrison, Operations Lead at Primo Toys. Primo creates inclusive coding toys that have introduced more than 1 million children in 180 countries to computer programming in early years.

Dr Allison Gardner, Teaching Fellow at Keele University and Programme Director for the Science Foundation Year. She is a co-founder of Women Leading in AI, encouraging women to shape the debate around the use and norms of AI and big data.

During the discussion, our panelists (and the audience) shared personal experiences and advice on how to handle difficult situations as well as how to seek out and pursue opportunities.

 

Here are a few choice pieces of advice from our panelists:

  • Say something when you see something, when you observe someone using humour to denigrate a woman, speak up and point out that this behavior is not acceptable. Confrontation can be uncomfortable so one panelist suggested laughing it off but then raising the issue privately with the person involved.
  • Find allies. When you’re presenting an idea to a group, pre-pitch your idea to select colleagues beforehand to build their support for your idea ahead of time. This will give you confidence that you have some friendly support in the room when you actually present your idea.
  • Advocate for women initiatives. Use every opportunity to encourage your company or institution to actively (and proactively) support female advancement. Lip service is not good enough – only concrete actions will deliver real advancement.
  • Don’t apologize when you’re asking someone to do their job. Women generally apologize too often – and it can come across as weakness. As a leader, you can and should expect people to do their jobs. So, ask politely and firmly. No apologies necessary.
  • Be a role model and support your fellow women colleagues. Becoming a role model and mentoring young women as they begin their careers is a powerful way to pay your own success forward and ensure that the next generation is equipped to carry the torch for gender equality.

Thanks to our panelists and audience for a wonderful evening. For more information about Clarivate’s diversity programs, including Women@Clarivate, click here.

 

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity

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