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Improving diversity in STEM sectors Infographic

Diverse teams produce more creative and innovative solutions to problems.  Companies with diverse boards are more profitable.

Products created by organisations which have limited diversity will be less useful.  For example, Apple didn’t include a period tracker in its Health app for iPhone until 2015.

Many STEM sectors in the UK do not represent the diversity of the current UK population in terms of gender, ethnicity or social class.  In 2018 Engineering UK found that just 24% of  the Engineering workforce were people from a disadvantaged background, and in 2020 the ONS reported that 14.5% were female.

For over 50 years, Governments and companies have been working to improve the diversity of different STEM sectors, initially in terms of gender, but more recently in relation to ethnicity and social class.  And we can say that things haven’t got worse in most sectors, they also haven’t got much better.

NUSTEM’s research is exploring new, and more nuanced, ways of changing the diversity of STEM.  We published a research paper about our Theory of Change a while ago.  We’ve recently been working with the lovely people at Nifty Fox Creative to develop a useful infographic to summarise the paper so that we can share it with busy people.

You can see that it includes our five recommendations for all organisations that want to work towards increasing the diversity of all STEM sectors:

  • Start working with families and children from a young age
  • Use attributes of people working in STEM to help children to see what they have in common with them
  • Show parents and carers the different routes into STEM careers
  • Support teachers to include careers in their subject lessons. Showcase local opportunities.
  • Ensure that company culture is inclusive of staff from different backgrounds. Make STEM sectors good places to work.
Increasing Diversity in UK STEM Sector - NUSTEM

You can also download a pdf of the infographic here.

#girlswithtoys

Yesterday, National Public Radio in the US published an interview with an astronomer, in which he’s quoted saying:

“Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call ‘boys with toys’.”

Many other scientists are, of course, not boys at all. But they still have toys, and for the last eleven hours or so Twitter has been awash with fantastic photos of scientists, grouped under #girlswithtoys. There are lots of telescopes:

…there are plenty of other bits of apparatus and equipment:

I have no idea what a dual intracellular amp is, but it’s clearly making someone happy.

Then there are the not-really-instruments-just-cool-toys:

Drop whatever you’re doing and spend a few minutes scrolling through the #girlswithtoys stream (see also the live feed). It’s a glorious depiction of scientists doing what they love, with the tools and instruments of their work.

(top image from this tweet – who doesn’t love a spot of Antarctic heli-fishing?)

Update, 11am: One of the most remarkable photographs is this:

Margaret Hamilton during the Apollo Program (NASA / WikiMedia Commons)

Margaret Hamilton during the Apollo Program (NASA / WikiMedia Commons)

I’d never heard of Margaret Hamilton, which seems outrageous given that she was the lead flight software engineer on the Apollo programme. That is: the code written by her team landed men on the moon. In the final moments before touchdown, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module computer was swamped with excess data and pushed beyond its limits. It’s a fairly standard story in software engineering circles about how the development team anticipated such a situation and had built a system that could tolerate it. Their foresight avoided calamity.

I’ve read the story many times, but I’ve never heard it mentioned that Hamilton led that development group, nor that she coined the very term ‘software engineering.’ Her Wikipedia page is awesome.

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