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We cannot afford another 40 years

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Open letter to the Financial Times and the London Evening Standard

12 November 2015

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Sex Discrimination Act being passed in the UK. We applaud the progress that has been made since.

But in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), progress remains slow. Women make up just 14 per cent of the UK’s STEM workforce. We want to see this be nearer 30 per cent by 2020.

It’s not the quality of our female scientists or engineers that’s the issue. Girls are outperforming boys at school in STEM subjects, but we’re losing girls at every stage between the classroom and the boardroom. The challenge is attracting, retaining and promoting female talent in the workforce.

We need to inspire more girls to choose STEM qualifications as a route into fulfilling careers that benefit themselves, future employers and our economy. Changing the messages we give girls about STEM at school and at home, and identifying more positive role models, is the first step to achieving this.

But to be successful, this must be backed by strong public policy. We challenge the government to provide a clear commitment to accelerate diversity in our STEM industries.

We cannot afford to wait another forty years to achieve this change.

Signed:

Christine Flounders
Research and Development Manager in London, Bloomberg

Naomi Climer
President, Institution of Engineering and Technology

Trudy Norris-Grey
Chair, WISE Campaign

Catherine Mayer
Co-founder, Women’s Equality Party

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