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Reasons why it's #NeverTooLate to Increase Gender Diversity in Science

Posted by Hazel Lush on Feb 11, 2019, 9:59:24 AM

Today, 11th Feb is the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, and at Gapsquare, we are passionate about building equality and diversity capacity across all industries. That's why we are working with the incredible Interactive Scientific to start the conversation about why it's #NeverTooLate to engage and sustain gender diversity in science-based workplaces and education. 

Do you have a story about getting women and girls engaged in science? Did you come to a science career late? Or perhaps you're building a more inclusive science-based workplace. Tweet us @Gapsquare and tell us why you think it's #NeverTooLate. 

Gapsquare uses intelligent and intuitive tech to give employers insights into a range of fair pay data and has therefore seen a range of responses to lack of gender diversity across industries. So – where does science come in terms of gender equality? Read on to learn about the gender pay gap in science and hear the thoughts and experiences of Caroline Clarke, Director of Operations, KETS Quantum Security and Charlotte R. Bermingham, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder at Vitamica on how they are revolutionising the world of science. 

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The STEM Workplace

According to WISE campaign for gender balance in STEM, there are around 900,000 women in core STEM occupations in the UK even though general recruitment into the sector as a whole is increasing. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are increasingly becoming a key source of employment within the UK as a whole, STEM roles increased by 6.3% between 2017 and 2018 (6 times the general, country-wide increase in all roles). However, there’s work to do in building inclusivity into STEM, at the moment the rate of increase for male recruitment into the sector is speeding up, meaning female recruitment is looking less likely to catch up.

The Gender Pay Gap In Science

The gender pay gap in science is also far from a distant memory, though due to the nature of the categories of the .Gov statistics, it can be hard to pinpoint a science-specific figure around women’s pay parity at work.  But there is a range of interesting data telling us that there’s room for improvement. To give an example, a 2017 survey by the New Scientist puts the Science and Engineering Gender Pay Gap at 20%. According to this survey, women being paid less, on average, in science is something that happens even very early in their careers with women between 25 and 34 earning 2.5 per cent less on average than male counterparts. Later in their career, women are overwhelmingly hit by the impact of increased pay disparity, and this continues to be the case throughout their working lives: “the gap widens to a shocking 35 per cent for women aged 55 and above”!

Though this story can be somewhat woeful, at Gapsquare, we believe that it is #NeverTooLate to get more women and girls into (and keep them in) sciences, that it's #NeverTooLate to build pay equality into these industries.

This year, for the International Day for Women & Girls in Science, we wanted to take a look at what’s happening in innovation in science and pinpoint some stories that might inspire change. Stories of women in the science-based workplace who are trailblazing, sometimes without even knowing it, creating opportunities for other female leaders in the sector.

We believe that it’s #NeverTooLate to recruit and retain women into science – so why not start now? Time to get inspired.


 

Inspiring stories of Innovative Women In Science


Caroline Clarke
Caroline Clark, Director of Operations, KETS Quantum Security

Take Caroline Clark for example, Caroline is currently Director of Operations at KETS Quantum Security and has a background as a Mechanical Engineer. Caroline has spent much of her career managing revolutionary projects in the Faculty of Science at the University of Bristol.  Whilst driving forward incredible progress in science throughout her career, she also continues to work toward empowering younger generations to take the future into their own hands

Can you describe your journey to working in science?

 “I loved physics and maths at school and was lucky to have teachers who encouraged me. I'm interested in how things work and how they fit together. As my work has moved into management it's more about how people work and fit together but it's not actually that different - there are patterns. There weren't any STEM initiatives back then so I guess it was just an inherent thing in me.”

What is your role, and what work do you do at the moment in science? 

“Since finishing my engineering degree I have done a really wide range of different things from post-doctoral research, consultancy in the nuclear industry, sports therapy, enterprise and innovation support and university research management. I'm currently Operations Director of KETS (the world's first on-chip quantum encryption technologies) where we are building secure communications systems that use light to transfer information. 

My engineering and research work was in ultrasonic signal processing for destructive testing - using ultrasound to create a picture of something on the inside - like a baby scan but applied to engineering things like pressure vessels, pipes, engine parts etc. I loved this work and I still keep an eye out on what's happening with it - the stuff we invented is being used all over the world now and that's a nice feeling.

I'm also working on a project aimed at inspiring young people to be creative, confident and to think innovatively and entrepreneurially. My aim is to create a kind of kickstarter for good, for young people.” 

This International Day of Women & Girls in Science - what do you think employers could be doing to get more women into science-based workplaces?  

“There are now so many initiatives to get girls interested in STEM that we also have to be careful not to overdo it. Educating people on the cultural norms that put girls off is key - many male colleagues don't even understand what the problem is. Changing perceptions of what STEM is and what impact it can have on the world is also important - evidence shows that girls are more interested in outcomes that impact people in a positive way so we must highlight how engineers and scientists are changing the world for good.” 

 

Charlotte R. Bermingham, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder at Vitamica

Charlotte R. Bermingham, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder at Vitamica

Charlotte is the Chief Technical Officer at Vitamica. Vitamica is a spin-out company from the University of Bristol, developing an optical technique to detect nanoscale fluctuations in bacteria. Vitamica are developing a rapid test for antimicrobial resistance, allowing more sustainable use of antibiotics.

 What is your role, and what work do you do at the moment in science? 

“I work as a research scientist for a start-up company called Vitamica, which I co-founded based on research that I was undertaking as part of a group at the University of Bristol. We are developing a diagnostic device that tests patient samples to determine which antibiotics are appropriate to prescribe - something that is becoming more and more important with rising levels of antimicrobial resistance.

I am a physicist by training, but my work encompasses a range of areas such as microbiology, optics, coding and project management - working for a small company means doing a bit of everything and collaborating with people in order to solve problems. This makes the work really varied and interesting and there is a lot of discussion and bouncing around ideas. The results of experiments are rarely exactly what you expect, but this can open up whole new research paths and end up having more value than what you were trying to achieve!"

Can you describe your journey to working in science?

"I didn't really plan for this career path and never would have imagined that I would be working in a start-up company doing cutting edge research, but I've always enjoyed and been motivated by what I do and one thing has led to another. I enjoyed science at school and then developed that interest further at University, eventually deciding to do a PhD. While continuing in research after my PhD, we realised that the work we were doing could have an impact on the wider world and decided to set up a company to realise this. Knowing that the work you are doing could have a real impact on people's lives is a fantastic motivator.”

What advice would you give women (of all ages) who are considering moving into the sciences? 

"I think that having the right attitude is the most important factor to succeed in science - if you are motivated and interested in what you are exploring then you can go far. Science is mainly problem solving, so you gain transferable skills that help outside science and similarly, experiences solving problems in other areas in a logical, creative way can feed into being a good scientist. Science also tends to be collaborative, as solving a problem usually takes a range of skills. Working in a diverse team is one of the things I enjoy most about being a scientist. 

Want to share your story about diversity in science? Want to tell women and girls that it's #NeverTooLate to get involved in science or encourage employers to work with more incredible women? Get Tweeting! @Gapsquare 

 

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