5 ways Life Sciences can prioritise and support women in STEM
Life Sciences has been more successful at supporting women compared to other disciplines within STEM. But that doesn’t mean there’s not more that can be done.
Removing obstacles, addressing gender pay gaps, putting policies and working practices in place are all things that are easy to overlook. But without creating a supportive environment within your business first, it’s difficult to position yourself as a progressive supporter externally.
With some data, empathy and the right mindset Life Sciences as a whole, and individual companies can make a big difference in the success of women entering and staying in STEM.
1. Address current gender gaps
Before we start to look at ways of supporting women in STEM more widely, we need to make sure that support is embedded into our own cultures and businesses.
Looking at the gender pay gaps and imbalances at management level and higher is the first step to being a more inclusive employer. We can’t just talk the talk, we need to walk the walk and that starts internally.
Supporting your female employees to progress and succeed in their careers is a really important step that’s often overlooked for jazzier schemes or big campaigns. But without that real life support in our own businesses, anything else we do is likely to be like sticking a plaster on a broken arm.
2. Support along their journey
Women need to see that it’s possible to build a career in STEM and that they can reach leadership roles. The way to do that is to give them access to mentoring by women in senior positions.
Mentoring is a great way to help women navigate their career paths, open their eyes to other opportunities and also to give them an ally. Research shows that 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationship.
Support can also come from networking and training opportunities. Often women will hold back from asking for professional development so making it something included as standard bridges the gap between genders.
3. Remove obstacles
40% of women with full time jobs in science leave the field, or switch to part-time work after having a child. That shows the challenge isn’t solely getting women into STEM but keeping them there.
This is where you need to dig into your data and take a look at your retention rates, your maternity packages and return programmes, your leadership gender breakdown and identify where the barriers are.
Do you offer flexible working?
Do you offer parental leave or childcare support?
How generous is your annual leave package?
What’s your maternity support?
What’s your paternity support?
What happens when women come back from maternity?
Are they supported?
Find the obstacles women have to overcome and work with women in your workplace to find ways to remove them.
4. Celebrate success
Research has shown that one of the biggest motivators for women working for life sciences companies was receiving recognition for their work. Celebrating success is an easy way to help women feel valued but also to encourage and support other women in your network.
They don’t have to be big achievements but a token gesture that their work has been noticed and it’s appreciated will go a long way to boosting retention rates.
Publicly celebrating success helps provide real-life examples to others aspiring to be in that position.
Internally celebrating success helps elevate an individual's standing amongst their peers and boosts morale.
It’s a win-win situation.
5. Inspire the next generation
The final way Life Sciences can support women in STEM is by getting involved in inspiring the next generation. It’s taking everything we’ve talked about so far and applying it to the younger generation.
● Working with schools and colleges to show young girls what’s possible through the successes and real-life role models in your business.
● Connecting female students with mentors to guide them through their early career path and set them on the road to success.
● Being a public voice for gender equality and women’s rights in the workplace and in STEM.
Now more than ever, we need to be supporting women of all ages to get into, and to stay, in STEM. The only way to do that is through supporting the women in your business through equal pay, flexible working, mentorship, training and creating a truly supportive environment.
We can then go out to the younger female generation and know that what we’re telling them is true and will be a supportive, challenging but fulfilling career where they’ll be treated as equals.
Xplore Life Science are passionate about giving back to the Life Science community, we can
work with you and build on your hiring strategy. Speak to the team today, firstname.lastname@example.org