Student Zone

Below are the answers to some of the brilliant questions about women in STEM that we have received from students.

We will update these answers as we get more feedback from our STEM champions.

Is there a greater percentage of men in STEM careers? If so, why is this?

Yes, there is a greater percentage of men in STEM careers. According to the Women in the STEM workforce 2016 report by

“There is a mixed picture across the Core STEM workforce in 2016. Whilst it is positive to see an increase of 13,000 more women working in Core STEM occupations, the proportion of the workforce made up by women has decreased from 22% to 21% since 2015.”

Some of the main reasons given for this are; discrimination, unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labour market and  men in the most senior roles.

Lots more information about this and further links to find out more can be found on the Fawcet Society website.

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Do women get paid less?

Women in full time work currently get paid 13.9% less than men. You can find out more about the gender pay gap here.

BUT….. UK STEM graduates ‘earn nearly 20% more than their peers’ !

According to, recent research has found that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates can earn nearly 20% more than their peers, at an average of £26,023. To get the full story click here.

Salaries vary according to job role , responsibilities, qualifications and experience but some examples are below.

Biomedical Scientist:
Starting salaries in the NHS range from £21,692 to £28,180 (Band 5). With experience and/or specialist knowledge, you can earn a salary of £26,041 to £34,876 (Band 6). As a senior biomedical scientist, you can expect to earn £31,072 to £47,559 (Band 7/8a).

Once fully qualified, accountants can earn £26,000 to £50,000+. According to a 2014 salary survey by Stott and May, the average earning potential of chartered accountants with two years of experience is £47,900 plus bonus. The average annual salary in business is £90,800.

According to The Engineering Council’s Survey of Registered Engineers 2013 (published in 2014) the average (median) total earnings for engineers registered at different levels who responded to the survey were as follows: chartered engineers:£63,000. incorporated engineers: £45,500. engineering technicians: £40,000. You can reach these levels through apprenticeships (starting salary usually minimum wage) or as a graduate.

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What percentage of engineers/STEM workers are women?

In engineering the figures from 2016 according to the Women’s Engineering Society ‘The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, while Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%.’ you can find out lots more about these disappointing statistics here.

But stay positive!!! See below.
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What is being done to increase the number of women in STEM?

The good news is that Government , Employers and Schools are working hard to try to encourage girls to engage with STEM. Through lots of initiatives and collaborations they are offering local and national events, programmes, websites and mentors so from a young age female students can identify STEM as an exciting and rewarding opportunity.

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I am really into maths, I am wondering what kinds of jobs there are to do with maths?

If you enjoy maths and choose to study it at degree level there is a huge range of carreers that will be open to you.  Take a look at to find out about careers you could take on with a maths degree and find some great advice about what work experience might help you into your chosen career.

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What jobs are there in STEM?

There are a whole host of different jobs connected with the STEM subjects and there are a number of different ways to get into them. If you plan to study towards a STEM based degree there is lots of useful information to be found in the ‘STEM Graduates’ job board section where you can search for current job opportunities for graduates of STEM based degrees. Apprenticeships are also a great way to get into STEM careers – See the answer to the next question for more information.

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Do you have any links to apprenticeships further North?

The best place to find out more about apprenticeships is If you are 14 or over you can register and there is lots of information on here about apprenticeships, jobs in your area and information for parents and teachers.

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How did you get into doing your job and what inspired you?

We have a fantastic portfolio of  pen portraits from a wide range of women in prominent STEM based roles which have all the details of how they got into their current job and what inspired them. Follow this link to take a look.

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How does working in a male oriented environment in a traditionally masculine field affect how people see you?

Working in a male oriented environment is not a problem. People respect you for your capabilities and attitude towards your work, not judging you on your gender. I have honestly never met or worked with nicer people and at no point have I ever felt like I don’t fit in. – Hannah Magowan

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What do you wish you had known about careers when you were at school?

Just a few answers from our STEM champions:

‘That there are so many jobs out there which I didn’t know existed when I was at school! When I was first offered an interview for a product manager job, I didn’t even know that ‘product management’ was a thing! I certainly never thought that I would work in ‘geeky IT’ when I was at school.  Don’t worry about deciding what job you want, focus instead on what skills you have and what you find interesting, and then get a careers advisor or recruiter to advise the types of jobs that you’d be good at.’

‘At school, I was told by all my teachers that what I studied and how well I did would determine the rest of my life – quite a daunting prospect for a 15 year-old! And it’s totally not true. Of course it’s important to try your best, but we don’t all learn in the same way, and exam results are only a measure of how well you can memorise a subject. They aren’t the only measure of how well you understand and can apply a subject. If things don’t work out, there are always other options – your future career may be something you don’t even know exists yet!’

‘It would have been good to know that you don’t have to decide at a very young age what you want to do for a career, you learn so much after you leave school that can take you on different paths where you can find what you enjoy doing and your vocation in your life.’

‘The career you choose at school or college is not always the career you end up in. It’s difficult to know at an early age what career you want to pursue. However, when you work in that particular area, it can open so many possibilities and give you the opportunity to try different areas of work to find one which suits you and enhances your strengths most. I was not told this at school and instead there was a sense of urgency to try and find a career path to focus on when really you can start going down one road and end up at a completely different location! Therefore, do not worry that the career you choose to explore is the career you have to stay in, there are endless possibilities.’

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Do you wish to inspire other people?

A few answers from our STEM champions shows just how much support its possible to find in STEM careers:

‘Absolutely yes! I’d like young people to know that working in technology is cool and glamourous (especially product management!); it’s really well-paid as there is high demand and a lack of expertise in the sector; and it’s really rewarding to see your ideas and hard work come to life on a website or app, and see users interacting with and loving your creation.’

‘Yes – I have gained so much inspiration from many amazing people, that have helped me get to where I am today. If I can do that for someone else, that would be really rewarding.’

‘It would be lovely to think that in my job role I can inspire at least one other person. If this does happen, I think it is sometimes something that you do or say that can make that person think and be inspired to follow in your footsteps. For example, about three years ago I was invited by a fellow colleague of mine to sit in on a session to take minutes. It was a kick off meeting with her new team of 16 colleagues. The meeting was in the boardroom and she gave a briefing to her team explaining the plans going forward. I was incredibly impressed how she commanded a room full of experienced and opinionated people and her presentation style was brilliant. I remember her coming across as very relaxed and professional and answered some very challenging questions. This inspired me to work on my presentation style and as a result I applied for the NGN Outstanding Presenter Competition and made it to the final. So that just shows that you can inspire someone to do something without them even realizing. Hopefully I will manage to do that one day, if I have not done so already.’

‘I do, if I can have an impact on one person’s life, even in a small way I feel very strongly that I should. Helping people progress and achieve their goals is very rewarding. I take my responsibility for the welfare of my team very seriously and work very hard towards growing a strong and committed group, who have each other’s best interests at heart.’

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How do you get better people skills, especially if you want a career in medicine?

‘People skills are massively important, always remember to treat people the way you would want to be treated. I was quite shy when I was younger, and this can be a stumbling block to overcome, but I find now that the best way to develop skills in this area is to talk to people. Every conversation you have will help you develop this skill, and it’s important to show empathy, if you show a caring side you will generally have that displayed in return. One important thing to keep in mind is not to judge someone by the actions of others, some people are not always genuine, but everyone has the right to a first impression, listening is a skill too.’

‘I would strongly recommend work experience where possible (especially in the area you would like to go into i.e. medicine). During this work experience, not only can you pick up and/or improve certain skills, you can also observe other colleagues in this industry and how they work. You can see what skills they have and use on a daily basis to take away with you and work on. I would also recommend doing some research around this topic and once you are in a position to apply for jobs, look to see if there are any courses around that job so that you have also gained a qualification in that specific area of work.’

‘No matter the field, good people skills are about really listening to others and hearing what they have to say, but also about picking up on what isn’t being said. You can only really learn to do that by practising it. If you are naturally introverted, it can be difficult to build up a rapport with new people, so you could start with your friends and family – really listen to what they have to say, show an interest and ask open questions that encourage them to open up more. When you feel confident with them, push yourself to speak to someone you don’t know, maybe in your class or an after-school club – you’ll already have something in common, so you can start there and find out what else you have in common. You don’t have to become best friends with them, but good people skills are about establishing a genuine connection and building on that.’

‘I remember someone I once worked with – who I thought had amazing people skills – once saying to me: “The people who are perceived to be the most interesting, are the ones who ask lots of questions. They don’t talk about themselves, instead they encourage others to talk about themselves, which makes others feel good, so in turn makes themselves more likeable.” So to develop your people skills, show a genuine interest in other people and encourage them to talk. That will naturally develop your conversation skills, and you’ll learn a lot along the way!’

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