Women in STEM – how far have we come?

It was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this week (Feb 11), which prompted me to reflect on my 30 years in this field.

Studying for my life sciences degree back in the 1980s, there were very few girls on the course – and even fewer studying physical sciences and engineering. In my first real position as a bench scientist there weren’t any female managers, and nobody for us to aspire to as young female scientists. We were used to the voices of men holding more weight on technical issues – something my younger female colleagues might find extraordinary now – and though the imbalance is certainly shifting, even in recent years we see most senior technical roles still held by men.

I have enjoyed an interesting and diverse career developing In Vitro Diagnostic and medical devices, and it’s been brilliant to see the numbers of women in management roles grow over time. I now work mostly with engineers and physical scientists and we have a great crop of young women in these disciplines. Working alongside them is eye opening and inspiring, as they see far fewer barriers to reaching senior positions during their careers. Their expectations are so different from my own at their age and I love to see that confidence in them. We’re not all the way there, but as a technical community we have clearly come a long way.

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