International Women’s Day has been and gone, but it’s important to think about what the day means. It’s a celebration of women who more often than not don’t get enough recognition for doing what they do – but it isn’t solely about celebrating. It’s also about making efforts to break down gender stereotypes and norms – and this is especially true for women in STEM industries.
While more women are working in STEM than ever before, they still only make-up around one quarter of the STEM workforce in the UK. Even as the UK faces a severe STEM skills shortage – with a recent study forecasting more than 600,000 vacancies in STEM by 2023 – many women still struggle to enter and stay in the STEM-related industries. As women in STEM, it’s important that we share our stories so that those looking to follow the same path know that it is entirely possible and there is always a way in.
So, what about me? I’m currently on a graduate training programme as a digital consultant at Sopra Steria – one of the biggest global tech consultancies in the world. I get to learn my job in a very practical, hands on way. More specifically, my job includes working directly with clients while simultaneously getting involved with our technology teams to figure out how best we can help said clients.
As for my route into STEM, I initially studied Politics and Sociology at Cardiff University – not your traditional STEM subjects. During my study however, I took a couple of modules centred around technology and internet governance and from that, I knew exactly what I wanted to pursue. A couple of years and a nerve racking assessment centre later – I chose Sopra Steria. Beginning my career in digital technologies at a standout organisation that is heralded for its innovative solutions and expertise with female and male role models.
If you’re looking to get into STEM but perhaps haven’t previously studied a STEM subject, don’t be disheartened. It’s important to remember that there a number of routes you can follow. Looking to the future, I want to further develop my knowledge of technology and identify which area I want to specialise in and I believe I am at the right place for it.
Of course, I am at the beginning of my journey but at Sopra Steria, I feel wholly comfortable and proud to be a woman in STEM and have a plethora of colleagues who are passionate about what they do to look up to. It is truly an exciting time to be a woman entering the sector. Never before has it been a better time to put myself out there and try to make as much of a difference as I can. But, it is important to remember that while we have come so far as an industry, there is long road ahead to true equality, and we cannot take our foot off the pedal.
By Lauren Boys – Junior Consultant