In November 2018, the RSE published its report, Tapping All Our Talents 2018 (TAOT 2018). Building on the RSE’s report of 2012 on women in STEM, TAOT 2018 comprehensively reviews the progress that has been made at increasing the proportion of women working and studying in STEM in Scotland, including the number who rise to senior positions in academia and industry.
The 2012 report highlighted the ‘leaky pipeline’ where almost three-quarters of female graduates were lost from STEM. Six years on, the issues of gender equality and the gender pay gap are higher up the political agenda than ever before; while the economic imperative to retain and promote top talent, regardless of gender, has become starker.
But has this translated into a perceivable shift in culture that encourages women to pursue careers in STEM and enables them to progress at an equal rate to men?
This is precisely the question that the joint RSE and Young Academy of Scotland review group, led by Professor Lesley Yellowlees, has examined. While the 2012 report considered the position of female STEM graduates in academia and the workplace, the 2018 report has gone further by exploring every stage of the ‘pipeline’ from the early years. This has enabled the review to systematically consider what needs to be done to further advance gender equality in STEM.
Through a public consultation, a series of roundtable discussions and a review of the literature and data available, TAOT 2018 considers what has – and has not – changed for women working in STEM in Scotland today, and it makes recommendations for addressing the under-representation of women in STEM.
The following four themes underpin TAOT 2018:
- The need for leadership including from the UK and Scottish Governments to drive culture change;
- The need for better data that allow real understanding and tracking of the extent of gender inequality in STEM, barriers to progress and appropriate solutions;
- A focus on behaviour change that recognises the benefits of gender equality for everyone and that renders bias and discrimination unacceptable; and
- Strong, sustained partnerships between educators and industry to deliver education and training that inspires all young people to engage in STEM.
Following the publication of TAOT 2018, the RSE is keen to facilitate and support collaborative actions to tackle gender inequality in STEM involving government, public sector, business and education providers.