Published date

March 2018

Tapping All Our Talents Review 2018: Women in STEM

In 2012, the RSE published its report Tapping All Our Talents, a comprehensive set of recommendations for Scotland aimed at increasing both the proportion of women in the STEM workforce and the number who rise to senior positions in universities, institutes, government, business and industry.

Recognising the huge economic and societal benefits to be gained in Scotland by enabling its top talent to flourish regardless of gender, Tapping All Our Talents was a call to action towards a fair and equal STEM workforce. Since then, issues of gender equality and equal pay have attracted greater recognition in both political and public arenas. But to what extent has rhetoric been met with action?

The RSE has established a Review Group, led by Professor Lesley Yellowlees FRSE, to explore what progress, if any, has been made on equality in the STEM workforce in Scotland over the past six years; and what remains to be done.


1. Identify progress made on the 2012 recommendations to the Scottish and UK Governments, industry, funders, universities and research institutes, professional bodies and women’s organisations.

2. Investigate current data on the representation of women in the STEM workforce across sectors and across levels of seniority, and on the gender pay gap, to discern whether the arguments made six years ago remain valid.

3. Consider more broadly the changing landscape in which issues of women’s equality are being tackled. This will include reviewing the impact of initiatives rolled out in Scotland, the UK and further afield, in order to comment on lessons learned and highlight good practice.

4. Widen the scope of the Review to consider the early journey of girls and young women into STEM, looking holistically at the path through primary and secondary education and at the spectrum of routes into work through further and higher education and training.

5. Present an updated picture of the progress that has, or has not, been made since 2012. It will recommend the actions that policy-makers, educators and employers can take to ensure that Scotland is leading the way to a fair and equal STEM workforce, capturing all the social and economic benefits this will bring.

Open Consultation

The Review Group launched an open consultation on Monday 19 March. Its remit and the consultation questions can be found in the Call for Evidence.

Submissions were invited and received from any interested individual or organisation by the end of April 2018.

Evidence gathering

In addition to the open consultation, the Review Group held a series of discussion fora with stakeholders across government, academia, industry, education and the third sector. An updated literature review and data analysis will identify changes since 2012, while international comparisons and case studies will aim to identify good practice that can inform future action.


Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE FRSE, Review Group Chair; former Vice Principal and Head of College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh; former President, Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor Polly Arnold, Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, RSE President; Visiting Professor of Astrophysics, Oxford University.

Professor Alice Brown CBE FRSE, former Chair, Scottish Funding Council; Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Allan Colquhoun, University Liaison and Emerging Technologies Manager, Leonardo.

Dr Mary Doherty, Senior Lecturer and Head of Postgraduate Research Development, University of the Highlands and Islands; member, Young Academy of Scotland.

Dr Fiona McNeill, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University; member, Young Academy of Scotland.

Douglas Morrison, STEM and Innovation Lead, City of Glasgow College; Director, Scottish Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange.

Dr Eileen Wall, Professor of Integrative Livestock Genetics at SRUC; Vice President of the British Society of Animal Science.

David Watt, Executive Director, Institute of Directors Scotland.

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, RSE Chief Executive

Dr Tanya Wilson, Early Career Fellow, Economics, University of Stirling.

Talat Yaqoob, Director, Equate Scotland

Contact details

For further information contact the secretariat, Susan Lennox