Wed 18th Oct 2023

Diversity in STEM – a new paradigm



Shameena Bonomally recently attended the IoD Glass Ceiling Group meeting tackling diversity in STEM.

The statistics around gender diversity in STEM make concerning reading. Only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women and, in the UK, the percentage of women with STEM degrees has dropped from 25% to 24%. Given that STEM careers are regarded as careers of the future, there’s an urgent need to promote diversity in STEM across all characteristics, not just gender. So it’s encouraging that the IoD is tackling this issue head on.


The IoD's panel of highly accomplished women shared their experiences of forging STEM careers. Janet Coyller, a director with experience in the silicon semiconductor industry; shared her experiences with integrating in a male-dominated sector, and how she had ended up in the semiconductor industry because she had been selected to fill a female quota at a firm. She believes that firms should look for women in the right place i.e., female events, societies, etc, and that firms should strive to create the conditions needed to encourage women to apply, rather than set quotas for female recruitment.


On this same point, another panellist Malek Kawan (she recently completed her PhD in neuroscience and leads two tech firms for robotic implants), noted that a recent study by KPMG showed that women thrive in firms with tailored plans i.e. flexible working arrangements, tailored feedback. Janet mentioned a new model “returnship” whereby women return to their firms after a pregnancy/other life event on the salary and position they would have been had they never left.


Audrey Canning, who works on the safety of AI systems, talked about the need to have more male allies in the workplace. Interestingly, as noted by the audience, there were only two men who had attended the event. Her take was also that, although women should be encouraged to be their own advocates, their male colleagues should feel that it is a shared responsibility to give female co-workers their due recognition.


At Page White Farrer we’re passionate about promoting diversity. Through our membership of IP Inclusive we will continue to champion equality, diversity and inclusion in the intellectual property sector.


For more information about our approach to diversity and inclusion, please contact our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer - David Roberts.



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