Demand for female STEM talent soaring as leaders seek balance
As the Managing Director of a search firm in data analytics, one of the most common things I hear on a daily basis is “we need more women.”
We work heavily in the fintech space to help organisations build out their data science functions, to integrate machine learning into their offering, and plenty more. But in each business, establishing a balanced cultural environment is key. At the core of that, is tackling the existing gender gap in data and analytics.
According to the Office of National Statistics, women account for a mere 13% of people in STEM professions and as the market for careers in big data increases year on year, we are seeing many businesses aspire for an equal and balanced workplace. In pursuit of this, a number of organisations have established and promote initiatives to encourage women to pursue a career in big data, such as Women in Data who seek to create an inclusive environment to network.
Within industry, an excellent example of the ongoing efforts to improve gender diversity in the field can be seen within the digital banking space. An increasing number of these businesses are focusing on inclusivity and diversity across all spectrums, with a core focus on the importance of cultural balance and the benefits that it can create. In doing this, there are many indicators that increasing diversity at the executive level improves returns on equity year by year. A Catalyst report concluded that companies with greater quantities of women in high-level positions increased their return on equity by 53% and 66% of return on invested capital. On the basis of these returns, there is no question about the benefits of pursuing greater diversity. But it’s not an issue that can just be addressed at the executive level; the challenge extends much further to education.
It’s no secret that STEM subjects are at a level of demand that the market cannot saturate. Institutions are still playing catch-up in introducing degree schemes to fully qualify students with the skills required in the data analytics marketplace. But in further satisfying the demand for a balanced workforce, the gender gap within education needs attention. UCAS found that women outnumber men in almost two-thirds of degree schemes but in STEM subjects, they make up for around a quarter. There needs to be change at the earliest level in order to resolve the perpetuated gender gap at the executive level. Initiatives like Women Who Code and the WISE Campaign are fantastic examples of how the market is dealing with this and gradually, we are seeing a shift. For us, it takes understanding the client one step further. We’re working hard with our clients to not only secure the best analytical talent in the market, but to also help them create the most profitable and balanced working environments possible. The initiatives and organisations mentioned above have gone some way in expanding the pool of individuals available and that is only increasing.
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by Lloyd Wahed, Managing Director at Athelstan Search
This article first appeared here