A new report seems to offer more evidence that lack of confidence and unconscious bias are key contributors to the loss of female talent in STEM. The report ‘Jobs for the Boys?’, led by UCL Engineering, Katalytik and Oxford Research and Policy and funded by HE STEM (July 2012), explored possible causes and cures for low numbers of women in engineering and technology subjects.
• Three quarters of 4,624 final year engineering students surveyed reported expecting to work in engineering roles after completing their courses. This figure did not differ significantly based on gender; but, six months after graduation, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) figures show that only 39% of female bachelor degree graduates entered roles in engineering and technology, compared to 50% of males.
• Women in the final year of undergraduate engineering courses are as likely as men to express the intention to work in engineering and technology roles
• Women are less likely than men to be working in engineering and technology roles six months after graduating.
Discussions with employers suggested reasons for the difference in employment between men and women SET graduates as:
• Lower confidence of female students in general
• Lower performance in group work in assessment centres
• High expectations of male students of themselves
• Unconscious stereotyped attitudes.
“Differences in confidence and assessment of ability between male and female engineering graduates persist despite the fact that women are more likely than men to graduate with first class or upper second class degrees,” Dr Jan Peters (Katalytik)