Creating change in STEM this International Women’s Day

25 Feb 2021

Business Business School Jobs/Apprenticeships Startup

8 March sees the return of International Women’s Day and the theme for this year is ‘#ChooseToChallenge’. A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Currently, there is a large imbalance in the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women and this under-representation occurs in every region in the world. In schools, boys are also traditionally more likely to choose STEM subjects and to move on to studying STEM degrees at university.

As a career path and as an industry, STEM and its associated opportunities are growing at such an unprecedented rate. However, as quickly as the sector is progressing, there’s a divide in that women are not entering and moving up through the field at the same pace as men.

Breaking the mould is local business, Azure Liquid Solutions Ltd, who provide liquid solutions to both commercial and domestic customers. The commercial sectors it supplies include engineering, building, chemical, cosmetic, cleaning and many more.

Sarah Singleton, Managing Director at Azure Liquid Solutions commented: “I didn’t choose a STEM career, I guess you can say it chose me. I started Azure Liquid Solutions as an entrepreneur looking to make a company successful. The fact that this was in chemicals was more of an accumulation of circumstances. I was actually working in the Cayman Islands in a legal practice before starting Azure, so you can definitely say it was a change!

“I often feel that women are wary of career change and have the attitude that they can’t do something they’ve not got any experience in, whereas men are more likely to go for jobs even if they don’t feel they have the right qualifications.

“Statistically, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. What I want more women to do is to push the boundaries and realise they are more than capable at changing it up and succeeding in any position.”

However, change is coming. Between 2011 and 2020, the number of women accepted onto full-time STEM undergraduate courses increased by 50.1% in the UK. Within the same period, the proportion of women entering full-time undergraduate courses taking STEM subjects increased from 33.6% to 41.4%.

Since 2016, the number of women working in STEM fields has increased by 216,552, which has taken the total number over the 1 million mark for the first time ever! This means women now make up 24% of the STEM workforce in the UK.

Sarah said: “It is important that women take up STEM careers as it is so male dominated. In order to get varied businesses and successful companies the industry needs diversity. Women bring so much to the table and without having women in STEM careers then that diversity and additional talent won’t be added to the industry.”

International Women’s Day is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

Sarah commented: “We have a duty to push the boundaries of current social norms and lift each other up so as to create a new norm. This is a challenge but something we are all part of, men and women both.

“We have to create a future where women feel they have the capability, means and support to push for any job in any field and a future shock that at once this wasn’t the case!”

Individuals and organisations can get involved in spreading awareness on International Women’s Day by using the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge

To find out more about Azure Liquid Solutions, click here.