Published on in Responsible Business

Each year, Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women within the STEM disciplines – and in doing so marks an important milestone for girls and young women across the world.

However, although we’ve come a long way in celebrating not just men but the women who have shaped our world today, more still needs to be done to attract female talent into STEM roles.

The shortage of candidates is partly due to a lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist, and the flawed perception that some groups, such as women, don’t belong in STEM professions.

But because you can’t adequately think about what people worldwide need if you don’t have a diverse team, providing insight from all perspectives, promoting diversity is crucial for ensuring the future competitiveness of the economy.

Foster talent early on

From policymakers to public and private organisations, and especially parents, we all have a responsibility to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects among the next generation.

It’s important that organisations across the board join forces to encourage all students – girls as well as boys – to take up STEM subjects, helping them understand the positive impact this knowledge will have on their lives and future careers and the positive impact STEM can have on society and the world.

Studying computer science can lead to a career in design, for example, or even technology marketing or management of a business division. The launch of new T-level qualifications this year highlights just how high technology now is on the national agenda.

It’s no longer a nice-to-have; technology is absolutely core to the future of the UK economy – particularly as we move into the age of IoT and smart cities.

Championing female employees in the workplace

Whilst education initiatives are a great starting point, it’s important we don’t forget about those already in the workplace.

As women come on board, business leaders and management must create a culture of inclusion. Women, just like their male colleagues, need to progress and develop in their roles.

There are some processes that can be immediately built in to a business, such as the provision of flexible working to support women throughout their career lifecycle.

Some longer-term goals include the launching of women’s networks, which have proven vital in ensuring that women receive the proper support and advice they need. In addition to this, senior leaders should also champion women within their organisations, encouraging other senior women to act as mentors and role models.

Engaging a diverse array of people in tech

Technology is being used to address some of the most crucial issues in the world, and solutions are becoming ever more people-centric. Creativity and innovation can be as important as having specific technical skills when it comes to fast-moving digital jobs that present new challenges every day.

To support this, we need to ensure we are investing in both girls and boys and women and men throughout the digital journey, helping develop the right skills to support the future digital economy.

Only by embodying a diverse workforce can we hope for a collaborative environment filled with different ideas and perspectives.

After all, with 70% of women aged 16 to 64 in work, organisations that fail to foster a whole group of talent properly in the workforce will prevent the UK from seeing a prosperous economy.

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