From the age of 5 when we begin school until we enter the world as adults, there is one thing we all have in common, education. We spend most of our childhood learning, with the subjects we study shaping who we are going to be. From a very young age we are taught to consider the roles we will play as adults, leading to a careful choice of subject selection at GCSE, A-level and beyond.
Across the UK, entries of A-level students into STEM studies account for over a third of chosen subjects, with the number rising steadily each year. STEM subjects include the academic areas of science, technology, engineering and maths – all of which play a vital role in the world today.
Despite the vital importance these subjects play, according to The Young Women’s Trust, there is still a large gender gap. In fact, 78 percent of those completing the physics A Level are male and 61 percent studying maths are also male.
The growing gender gap is also clear at university level, with UCAS reporting that over the last five years just 17.4 percent of applications to study engineering came from females. Despite a gradual increase in the number of females undertaking STEM studies in the UK, only 13 percent of the STEM workforce is actually female.
With so few women interested in following a career in the exciting world of engineering, we take a look at the benefits of undertaking STEM studies.
A varied and satisfied career
Many school aged children hear the term ‘STEM’ and picture a scientist in a lab coat, but while this is a clear image of some professions, in reality STEM studies can open the door to an exciting, varied career. Studying a STEM subject can lead to a career in areas such as engineering, science, chemistry, IT or maths.
STEM fields are facing huge challenges across the world in handling issues such as climate change and a rising population. Those who study a STEM subject have the potential to make a real difference in the world. Although engineers may face a significant challenge in their careers, the key role they play in solving issues create a brilliant level of job satisfaction which many other careers would struggle to rival.
Excellent career progression
One of the major benefits to beginning a career in a STEM field is the excellent possibilities of career progression. The male-dominated businesses are changing, with previous stereotypes and gender barriers a thing of the past. An increasing number of companies are creating new opportunities in an effort to broaden and equalise their workforce.
Those who follow a career in an area such as engineering often find their skills are transferable into new positions or alternative careers, which can provide an excellent opportunity to explore new career paths.
The potential for quick progression also means careers in engineering can be incredibly lucrative. The gender gap in earnings for women is decreasing, with most entrants into engineering earning the same amount regardless of their gender.
Increasing support at university level
The world needs more engineers, with an estimated shortfall of one million over the next ten years. Across the nation, universities are creating a new portfolio of engineering degrees which are enhanced by new state-of-the-art facilities.
Within universities, new academic departments have been created with lecturers chosen based on their passion for their subject and their inspirational way of teaching. The new courses are deliberately designed to appeal to women, with gender-neutral departments providing an equally balanced and stimulating environment. The increasing level of support at university level represents an excellent opportunity for females to enter the field.
Government boosting science and engineering
The government has recently announced a support package of £400 million to provide a boost to science and engineering subjects at English universities, with a focus on encouraging women into these careers. For students who already hold a degree, this new funding will open up brilliant opportunities for studying another qualification, whether full or part time. The National Centre for Universities and Businesses hopes to increase the number of women studying engineering degrees to 30 percent by 2030.
Who could study STEM subjects?
Studying a STEM subject isn’t just about having a flair for technical studies, it requires creativity, problem-solving skills and an enjoyment for teamwork. Maths and the science based subjects do form an integral part of most STEM careers, but there is no requirement to be a genius. Although the exams can seem tough, a little bit of determination can open up a world of possibilities.
Here a Subcon Laser our family run business is proud to offer brilliant employment opportunities across our laser cutting services. As part of the Midlands’ manufacturing and engineering hub, we are always looking for ways to support young people entering the engineering profession. To find out more about our business and the services we provide, please contact our experienced team.