When I attended the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference last year, one of the most fascinating discussion groups I attended was around this exact topic. It was a fast-flowing and brilliant debate - albeit with no-one actually having a definitive answer! The poet W.H. Auden once wrote that civilisations should be reassured by “the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”
However the current stats are insane - approximately 40% of women drop out of STEM roles within 5 years in the UK, whilst the number for men is nearer 20-25%. Clients are increasingly asking for gender-diverse shortlists and looking to hire women into SLT positions, however perhaps the focus should be placed equally on making sure those hires are set up for success once they actually start, rather than on simply getting them through the door..
When thought leaders in the United States talk about the retention of women in STEM fields, emphasis is often placed on women who are just beginning their careers, or encouraging girls to study science in school. But what about women who are already in the pipeline? A 2013 paper published in Social Forces found that women in STEM fields are more likely to leave their jobs than women in other fields. How should companies work to keep the women who are already employed in STEM?