1. ITV Report

'Starting a family' and 'stereotyping' affecting women's careers in STEM

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Archive/PA Images

The charity Chwarae Teg says more needs to be done to support young women in their careers.

According to its research, 67% of young women see barriers to achieving their career goals, and this figure increases with age.

The report investigated the aspirations, ambitions and concerns that young women aged 16-25 have for the future, and asks what change they want to see in the next 25 years. It found that while women in Wales are prioritising their careers and have high ambitions, they don’t know how they’ll get there and think that they’ll face barriers to achieving their goals.

A number of the barriers raised were around financial concerns and the cost of further qualifications, the impact starting a family could have on their career, and the lack of work experience and adequate advice to support them on the right career path.

Worryingly, the charity says, gender stereotypes are still prevalent and 87% of respondents said that gender stereotyping affects women’s careers. Young women are still favouring traditionally female-dominated roles and sectors despite seeing the need for women in STEM; and issues of sexism, racism and discrimination on the basis of disability are a feature of young women’s lives.

The young women we spoke to have great potential; they are bright, ambitious and determined, but wary of the challenges they may face in the future. There are persistent barriers standing in the way of women achieving their goals and at present a significant disconnect between where they want to be, and how they get there.

These women are our future leaders, our future workforce, and they need to be effectively supported to plan, progress and develop in their careers. Our research shows that they currently aren’t receiving this support.

Overwhelmingly, we found that gender stereotypes are still impacting on women’s work, and affecting their daily lives. What’s most concerning is the way that many of the women we spoke to documented occasions when casual stereotypes became overt sexism and discrimination. It’s frankly unacceptable that this is still an element of any woman’s daily experience.

Wales cannot afford to miss out on the potential of our young women. We need to embed gender equality into education and training; improve access to careers services; make women from diverse backgrounds in all works of life more visible; and crucially provide affordable and accessible childcare for women in Wales. Women need to be empowered at every age to achieve and prosper.

– Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg