Insights from Equate’s Director – January 2022

Are you a New Year’s resolution maker, starting the year with refreshed hope and vigour?  My friend, a dedicated gym goer hates this time of year, as her workout space is invaded by New Year “fitness wannabees.”  However, her assessment is, it won’t last and most, (but not all) will have drifted away by the end of February.

Which got me thinking about sticking with it – and what that means in terms of women – and women in STEM. History shows that women have a good track record of sticking with it, but lockdown brought challenges that no one could walk away from – sticking with it was the only option. Given the progress of women across STEM careers, or lack thereof, do we still feel that we have a sense of duty to stick with that cause too?

But, sticking with it, does not mean the status quo.

With already significant skill shortages across the STEM sector, and changes in immigration policy post Brexit that has seen over 1 million EU nationals return to Europe, I am starting this year with fresh optimism because surely this time – something’s gotta give.

COVID has been a tough journey – juggling home, family, work, and schooling, but one thing that it has done is bust the myth that we can’t work from home. The reality of what that looked like during COVID was not an altogether positive experience. What that might look like going forward still holds the potential to continue to disrupt our view of working – where and when. But one thing is certain, we will not be going back to the old ways of working. The world has changed, tech has moved us on, and the next evolution of work has begun.

The question for organisations facing significant skill shortages is will they evolve and seize this opportunity to widen their talent search, adopt broader and more inclusive hiring and training practices so that their business can build back both better – and fairer?

So here we are – back to the start of 2022 and New Year’s resolutions. And that made me think about women coming out this side of the pandemic. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and our ability to push through the barriers – so what are we going to do now? How about we tackle ourselves, and our seemingly inherent imposter syndrome?

As I write this morning, the radio is full of Meat Loaf songs. His iconic style, and unconventional pop voice, he most definitely didn’t conform to what the world expected. He was authentic, warts and all.

So, back to imposter syndrome and sticking with a musical theme…. I’m going to the other end of the rock’n’roll spectrum with Julia Andrews (forgive me!) and the Sound of Music. The song “I have confidence in me” it’s just too cheesy not to mention. (Linked if you want to sing along!) In the film Maria sings to herself, contemplating the challenges of the Von Trapp Family.  No doubt we can all relate to those “in our head conversations” (even if not singing them out loud).  The last few lines are definitely worth repeating – especially to yourself on a regular basis to get that negative self-talk out of your head. “I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides which you see I have confidence in me.”

So how about that for a mantra for 2022?  Kick out that negative self-talk and let’s get to the good stuff. The skills and talent that you have, how you can best use it – and also have it better appreciated.

Having gone down this musical trail, I feel I simply must end on another musical note…. Our team had a work session this week that resulted in a chorus of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, not in relation to love, but in trying to solve a problem.  Well, the answer, as Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin reminds us, is That sisters are doing themselves.

So why not resolve to make this year, the year of doing it for you. There are great STEM employers out there who value talented people – make sure you know your value, that you are working in an environment and culture that appreciates you for who you are, and what you bring. STEM skills are pivotal to our future success, and women, like you, need to be at the heart of making the difference.

Whether you are a student, woman, or employer in STEM why not start January with a little TLC self-development booster by signing up to one of our free Equate Scotland sessions. We promise we won’t sing.