For the first time ever, there are over one million women working in core-STEM roles in the UK.
With the target for 2020 hit, we are looking ahead to the future growth of women in core-STEM. Our projections from the last ten years of workforce data show that by 2030, on current trend we will almost be at 30% of core-STEM roles being filled by women –1.5 million women in total. Evidence suggests that 30% is the ‘critical mass’ level at which a minority group of women becomes able to influence real change.
The government’s data shows that, as of 2019, there are now just over a million women (1,019,400) in core-STEM – representing an increase of over 350,000 in the last ten years.
This means that women now make up 24% of the core-STEM workforce.
Extrapolating the trend in core-STEM from the last ten years’ data (2009-19) shows that we can expect to reach just over 29% women in core-STEM in 2030 – meaning a further push will be needed if we are to break through 30% and reach a ‘critical mass’ of women who will be able to effect real change.
However, progress towards 30% has not been equal across core-STEM.
The number of women in engineering roles has almost doubled in the last decade, from just over 25,000 to just over 50,000.
The new data source used by the government shows that women now account for just over 10% of engineering professionals. The percentage has remained static in the last year even as the number of women has increased.
There are 180,000 women in tech (IT professional) jobs in 2019, whereas there were 181,500 in 2018 – so there has been a slight decrease following several years of sustained growth.
The number of men in tech roles has jumped by 60,000 in the past year, which means the percentage of the workforce which is female has dropped by one whole percentage point in that time.
Of the 300,000 more people working in tech jobs now than in 2009, just 55,000 are female. This means the percentage of tech professionals who are female has remained stuck at 16% – so more action is needed to ensure women benefit from the growth in the tech industry.
This compares poorly with the trend in engineering over the last decade.
Women have already reached ‘critical mass’ in science professional roles and are now within touching distance of 50%.
There has been a year-on-year drop in the overall number of science professionals, but this has been caused by a decrease in the numbers of male scientists, with the numbers of women increasing.
In the last year the number of women in science roles has jumped by almost 4,000 while the number of men has dropped by 5,600.
Over the last decade, the number of women in science professional roles has risen by over 5,000 while the percentage of those roles filled by women has increased by over 3 percentage points.
There has been an increase over ten years in the percentage of SET managers who are female, from 13% in 2009 to 14% in 2019. Across five years, the number of women working in SET management roles has increased by almost 10,000.
However, in the past year there has been a drop in the number of women in SET management roles and the percentage has dropped too.
The numbers of men working in STEM technician roles have been increasing at a greater rate than the numbers of women since 2009, which means that over a ten year period the percentages of technician roles held by women have dropped.
This means there is more male than female talent coming into STEM which could be developed in future to undertake professional and managerial roles. In the last year, the numbers of female IT, science and engineering technicians have dropped.
Overall, the drop in the past year in the percentage of core-STEM roles filled by women is a concern, and the pace of change will need to increase in the coming years to get the trend moving in a positive direction again.
There is a particular need to get women into tech roles and keep them there – the data shows that women are missing out in the growth of a workforce which currently includes over one million people.
WISE has evidence-based tools which organisations can use to recruit, develop and retain female talent in core-STEM roles.
Use WISE’s My Skills My Life to increase the number of girls choosing STEM subjects.
Use WISE’s industry-backed Ten Steps to help organisations to create an inclusive culture in order to improve retention and progression of women into leadership roles.
Core STEM includes science, engineering, and information and communications technology. Health occupations are not included within the scope of core STEM. Skilled trades are not included within the scope of core STEM but WISE monitors the participation of women in skilled trades because of the scale of employment in these occupations.
A full list of occupations included in Core STEM can be found here, listed by 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code.
This analysis has been produced based on government figures from the Annual Population Survey (APS). The previous WISE analysis used the Labour Force Survey (LFS); Following changes, we now use the APS.
The APS uses a larger sample size than the LFS, which should make its results more accurate and which allows for additional data to be published. The APS also has a smaller sampling error than the LFS, due to differences in how the data is collected.