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Careers in STEM Subjects: Women and Girls

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2022

The increasing number of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been a huge asset to our country. Look at Sarah Gilbert, creator of the covid vaccine. Around 35% of the wage gap can be overcome if we get more women into high paid occupations, and that is exactly what we are working on.

Lack of diversity in science academia is an obstacle that must be overcome to maximise creativity and scientific innovation. Among the findings on diversity data and grant funding from Cancer Research UK was the fact that female and ethnic minority researchers hold fewer programme awards than their white and male colleagues. How can the Government level the playing field for women and ethnic minorities who are applying for research grants in those essential areas?

I am pleased to say that we are now seeing more women enter undergraduate courses in universities: 42% of undergraduate STEM students in the United Kingdom are women. What we need to do is open up all those research opportunities—those more senior opportunities—in our universities.

The good news, of course, is that young women are taking up and studying STEM subjects, but there is a drop-off when it comes to those people going into good, well-paid jobs. What more can my right hon. Friend do to make sure that people not only continue their STEM studies, but continue into good careers?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that girls and women are moving through the STEM pipeline. There has been a 31% increase in girls studying STEM subjects since 2010, and more employers are opening up opportunities around the country. We have the STEM boot camps to help people mid-career with STEM training. As my hon. Friend says, that is the way in which we will unleash talent in our country and make sure we are leading in the industries of the future.