It’s no secret that there is a huge problem with diversity in STEM. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation, 84% of working professionals currently in science and engineering jobs in the U.S. are white or Asian males.
This week a new study conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has shed a worrying light on just one of the reasons behind this lack of diversity.
According to the research, 29% of people aged between 13 and 23 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, undefined or asexual (LGBTUA+) have chosen to avoid a technology career because of fears that they will be discriminated against.
On top of this only 26% of girls said they were interested in a STEM career compared to 43% of boys.
Jo Foster, diversity and inclusion manager at the IET, said part of the reason why some young people do not want to consider a career in STEM is because these subjects have a “huge image problem”.
“The research backs up fears that gender stereotyping within STEM careers is alive and well, potentially damaging the diversity of talent coming into the industry,” she said. “This, coupled with the fact that there is an estimated annual shortfall of 59,000 technicians to fill engineering roles, clearly demonstrates a need for action.”
But who will take action? The IET’s research found that 27% of people think the responsibility for promoting STEM as a possible career path lies with teachers. A further 10% think it is the responsibility of parents while 14% feel the government should do more.
These sad statistics further highlight the long way we have to go in order to make STEM a truly inclusive industry. With Pride 2018 fast approaching it’s important that we remember that the celebration is about more than companies touting rainbow flags and sponsoring parade floats. Real inclusion needs to happen if we want the sector to flourish.