STEM is an interdisciplinary field of education based upon teaching students four specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Rather than perceive the subjects as separate entities with their own rules and distinctions, University-level STEM education encourages students to consider each subject as interlocking with the next. By looking at real world issues ranging from car manufacturing, to robotics, to civil engineering; students are not only able to enhance their learning of all four disciplines in a uniquely practical way, but also feel inspired to become brilliant innovators and scientists throughout post-graduate life.
STEM subjects play an integral role in economic growth, technological advancement, and development towards crucial modern-day issues such as global warming. But despite this fact, there remains a significant lack of female presence in this lucrative field. According to the Women’s Engineering Society, the UK currently hosts the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe (less than 10 percent) and in America, despite women making up close to half the economic workforce, they actually hold less than 25 percent of STEM-based jobs.
Despite diversity being a crucial element of any field, the lack of female role models, the lack of confidence in female ability, and a prevailing male-centred culture around STEM subjects have exacerbated the low representation of women in the workplace. And this occurs despite an equal level of intelligence, skill and interest across both genders during University education. In one study, both male and female students expressed a keen interest to enter a career centred around technology and engineering, yet less than half of the that year’s graduating females managed to procure a job in the field.
Not only does this mean a lack of gender diversity in the workplace, but since STEM opportunities are some of the highest-paying jobs around, it means fully-qualified women are missing out on great financial opportunities, while corporations are missing out on perfectly qualified, ambitious individuals equipped with the tools needed to transform this global industry.
Thankfully, more is being done by universities to encourage more women in STEM fields; not only by providing more work experience and internship opportunities, but also by offering a fantastic academic environment in which girls around the world can excel.
Here are 5 Universities that are leading the way for women in STEM…
The Faculty of Science and Engineering at Macquarie University is driven by the spirit of discovery. It has contributed to many significant initiatives, including early climate change research and the realization and commercialization of Wi-Fi technology.
Macquarie University has an active relationship with government, businesses and industry professionals and houses outstanding research facilities to help accommodate students with a thirst to learn more.
Within the faculty’s nine departments and the newly formed School of Engineering, several programs exist that aim to encourage and support women and girls in the field of STEM. These include scholarships for undergraduate students, programs to encourage girls in high schools, and a “Women making a difference” committee that supports and promotes the work of women in academia.
Macquarie University has also recently joined the pilot of the Science in Australia Gender Equity program (SAGE), which is supported by the Australian Academy of Sciences, and commits to building gender diversity in STEM and to increasing the level of women in leadership positions.
Macquarie University is leading the way for women in STEM, offering an education that inspires and supports girls and women to strive for more.
With graduates leaving and excelling in academia, industry, business and government, the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering offers students world-leading STEM programmes. The Faculty boasts nine departments ranging from computer science to chemistry, offering students a wide range of opportunities in STEM.
In 2005, the University began the Athena Swan Charter, which aims to “encourage and recognise commitment to the advancement and promotion of the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research.” In addition to this, the University recently recognised the work undertaken to tackle the gender gap on multiple levels, not just barriers of progression for women.
This University openly encourages excellence in all students, with leading female STEM professionals running seminars and lectures, enriching education through invaluable industry insights. Above all else, the University is committed to three things: diversity, equality, and hard work.
The award-winning Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering focuses on building a thriving community around STEM students, offering experiential learning opportunities and innovative education methods. Ranked the #1 Engineering School in Toronto, the University promotes an open and diverse range of students, with 40 percent of first year students being women, and over 50,000 students from around the globe.
With individuals such as Professor Angela Schoellig – one of the Department’s leading innovators, praised for her robotics research and leading lectures- it’s clear that women here will gain an inspirational and educated voice within the lecture hall.
Alongside this, women are encouraged to gain industry experience that will help them excel within their chosen field. The University boasts hundreds of active working relationships with corporations, with 66 percent of students taking part in the optional PEY internships. With eight disciplines to pursue, women are offered a variety of choice and a wealth of encouragement, making a real difference within the STEM community.
With a staggering 88.1 percent of undergraduates finding employment post-education, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology offers an eclectic range of courses within the STEM field. From electronic engineering, to IC design and bioengineering, the institution welcomes international students, and encourages a dedicated discipline within all. As of 2017, the University has been ranked number 15 in the QS World University Rankings for Engineering and Technology, as well as number 19 within the Times Higher Education (THE)World University Rankings.
Here, all female lecturers are endowed with national and international honours within the STEM community. The University strives to be a world-leader in engineering innovation, opening its doors to any student – regardless of gender – who is willing to embrace the institution’s mission. Namely, to advance learning and knowledge through teaching and researching engineering, while helping to promote diversity, economic growth, and pride across Hong Kong and the world.
FACULTY OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, DELFT UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY (TU DELFT) – NETHERLANDS
The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the Delft University of Technology boasts a 50/50 representation between men and women. Here, the Faculty seeks to answer the big questions offered by advancements in technology, provoking students to create answers with their skills and ingenuity. They aim to create an open academic community, striving to make a significant impact on both sustainability and the economy.
There is an ever-increasing number of female lecturers within this University Department, as well as strong sense of equality between the genders in all departments. There are frequent events and opportunities laid on to help women to gain industry experience, such as the KPN Technology Young Talent Program. With long-held connections to industry professionals, paired with a safe and encouraging education environment, women interested in STEM education will not only find a field suitable for them, but will also excel within their chosen discipline with dedication, skill, and the support of a world-leading University in engineering.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International