"We could all do a better job of celebrating the women and underrepresented groups in science'" says Dr Jessica Wade today on International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Dr Wade is a physicist at Imperial College London well known for her work to raise the profile of under-represented groups in science, with hundreds of Wikipedia pages on female scientists she has written outside of her day job at the Centre for Plastic Electronics. There is a critical skills gap looming in the tech sector, and especially in data science and AI. Much more needs to be done to mobilize young people, especially poorly represented groups (including women) into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The U.K. Industrial Strategy has recognized the critical skills shortage that needs to be addressed to help the U.K. become a global leader in data, AI and other critical technologies for the future, and the need for education to address this skills shortage highlighted in the recent All Party Parliamentary Group on AI which will be looking at this as a key task area for 2019.
Despite increased knowledge about gender (in) equality,7,27,38 women in STEM disciplines are still portrayed in stereotypical ways in the popular media. We have reviewed academic research, along with mainstream media quotes and images for depictions of women in STEM and women in computing/IT. We found their personality and identity formation continues to be influenced by the personas and stereotypes associated with role images seen in the media. This, in turn, can affect women's underrepresentation and career participation, as well as prospects for advancement in computing fields. The computer science Degree Hub15 in 2014 published its list of the 30 most influential, living computer scientists, weighing leadership, applicability, awards, and recognition as selection criteria. The list included only one female, Sophie Wilson, a British computer scientist best known for designing the Acorn Micro-Computer, the first computer sold by Acorn Computers Ltd. in 1978. A fellow elected to the prestigious Royal Society, Wilson is today the Director of IC Design at Broadcom Inc. in Cambridge, U.K., listed as number 30 of the 30 on the list.
In 2018, girls and women are getting the message they belong in computer science as much as boys and men, thanks to a greater push for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curricula in schools and a vast number of programs available to them outside of school. Yet the numbers remain discouraging. Although computer science jobs are projected to grow 15% to 20% through 2020, the majority of these positions will be pursued and filled by men, according to Women in Computer Science (WiCS). In 2016, 26% of professional computing jobs in the U.S. workforce were held by women; 20% of the Fortune 100 chief information officer (CIO) positions were held by women, and 23% of Advanced Placement (AP) computer science test takers were female, based on data from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). "As STEM-related industries on a whole add over 1.7 million jobs in the coming years, there continues to be a notable absence of women in the field," according to the WiCS website.
Black engineering graduates are less likely to find jobs than white students with lower second or third class degrees, according to a report that reveals stark inequalities within the profession. The review, by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), found that being black or minority ethnic was a bigger obstacle to employment than any other factor considered, including degree classification, attending a less prestigious university or gender. Bola Fatimilehin, the academy's head of diversity, said an old boys' network approach to recruitment and unconscious biases were contributing to the challenges faced by non-white students. "There is a certain amount of stereotyping of who can be an engineer and what talent looks like," she said. "A lot of people fall into the mode of thinking that there aren't a lot of black engineers because [black people] are not interested in it."