Winner of the WISE Man Award 2019

Zeb Farooq MBE, FRSA, CP APMP

Bid Manager at Jacobs

What three words sum up your STEM journey so far?

Unfinished, Exciting, Fulfilling

Who/what inspired you to champion gender balance in STEM?

I am a Muslim and my faith inspired me to champion gender balance in STEM. Muslims are often portrayed negatively, especially in the treatment of women. As Muslims, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Always find the time and opportunity to give; no matter how little and no matter how busy you are. Help others and give back more than was given to you. Helping others is a great way to help yourself.

What advice would you give to other men about the importance of gender balance in STEM today?

As men, we have a duty and responsibility to show that we care about gender balance. Not including half the talent of the planet (women) will never lead to success or a positive outcome.

What advice would you give to other men about how they can champion gender balance in STEM?

My simple call to action is:

If you’re already involved, then stay involved and get others involved too. In this journey we have a responsibility to encourage others to follow and bring people along with us.
If you’re not involved, then get involved. Be courageous, put your hand up and have a genuine commitment to do something about it.
Given the unique challenges we face due to COVID-19, how can we keep gender balance and diversity on the agenda?

At all times, especially in times like these, it’s important to maintain focus on gender balance and diversity. At Jacobs, our Action Plan for Advancing Justice and Equality builds on our existing inclusion and diversity strategy. It sets actionable initiatives and measurable objectives, that include requiring senior leaders to:

Achieve and maintain stretched targets for gender balance
Sponsor and mentor two diverse employees, one of whom must be Black so that we build back responsibly.
What can organisations do to increase/inspire more women into STEM?

At Jacobs “we live inclusion”, and organisations that celebrate and promote inclusive cultures will ensure greater business resilience.

Organisations need to have an externally visible and energetic commitment to women into STEM. It should be treated as a core business goal with sponsorship at the executive level, and not a public image boosting exercise.

We need powerful and relatable role models across the entire spectrum of the organisation who are visible, active and accessible.

What do you envision for the STEM sector over the next 20 years?

The next 20 years in the STEM sector will see the Fourth Industrial Revolution skyrocket. The pace of change will be breathtaking and it’s vital that we are ready with the right skills and behaviours to embrace this.

I hope in 20 years the need for organisations like WISE will no longer exist because gender balance and inclusive cultures are woven into industry. We won’t be talking about Women in Science and Engineering because we will marvel at the PEOPLE in Science and Engineering!

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