What are the career challenges and expectations of female STEM graduates?

Jun 19, 2024 | Diversity, Home Featured, Research

STEM Women has released its 2024 whitepaper, offering critical insights into the challenges and expectations female and non-binary STEM graduates face as they enter the workforce.

Currently, women make up just 26% of the STEM workforce in the UK, a statistic that underscores the importance of STEM Women’s latest whitepaper, Understanding the Gender Imbalance in STEM.

Over the past four years, STEM Women has collected data from more than 1,200 attendees, providing a robust foundation for the 2024 report. It offers an in-depth analysis of several key areas, including graduates’ career expectations, perceived barriers to success, and their outlook on the future of the STEM workforce.

STEM Women will be talking about the whitepaper alongside a panel of student representatives on the second day (25 June) of the ISE Student Recruitment Conference. As sponsors, they will also have a stall in the networking area where you can meet the team and find out more about their work.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of the findings that they will discuss.

Support for STEM ambitions

The majority (80%) of respondents reported being encouraged to pursue studies and careers in STEM.

Lasting impact of the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to influence career decisions, with 65% of respondents stating it has affected their career paths in STEM.

Confidence Levels

Contrary to the stereotype that women lack confidence in their professional abilities, the survey found high levels of confidence and optimism among female STEM students and graduates.

Diversity and inclusion

The whitepaper reveals that students and graduates are knowledgeable and informed about diversity and inclusion when considering potential employers.

Many prospective hires expect to see equal gender representation in the workplace and could potentially reject job offers from companies that do not demonstrate a commitment to equality. Over half of the respondents from 2019 to 2023 indicated that a company’s gender balance would influence their decision to accept a job offer.

Respondents also wanted to see workplaces that foster a genuine sense of belonging and community, which is crucial for their professional development, particularly in the era of hybrid work.

Graduate fears

The report also revealed graduates’ fears around the job market, and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, which 85% of respondents identified as a concern.

Future outlook

Respondents demonstrated optimism towards the future representation of women in STEM fields, and their own future careers.

Despite a reported decline in the number of women working in STEM, 52% of respondents believe that there will be significant positive changes in gender representation in STEM fields over the next decade.

This represents a change in outlook from 2022, when only 39% of respondents expected to see significant positive change.

This calls for educational and business leaders to ensure that this optimism and confidence aligns with women’s experiences after graduation.

You may also be interested in…

10 practical steps for inclusive recruitment in STEM

Rise in graduates feeling disadvantaged in job applications

How to attract diverse talent in the most hard-to-reach regions

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