WOMEN IN STEM: An intersectional analysis of multiple discriminations

Action needed to tackle discrimination faced by women across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM):

Equate Scotland has today released a report detailing the experiences of over 400 women who work across STEM in Scotland. The report revealed the extent of inequality still faced by women across male dominated workplaces and provides recommendations on what education providers, employers and Government can do to create real and lasting change.

The report is also the first of its kind which breaks down responses to give an intersectional analysis; telling us what women from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, disabled women, LGBT women and women with caring responsibilities experience across STEM. By breaking down the data like this, we can get a clearer understanding of the experiences of all women and can see that women who experience overlapping inequalities in society, also face disproportionality more difficulties in the workplace.

Speaking about the report Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland said:

“This report is ground-breaking as it has disaggregated the data to give us a more accurate understanding of women’s experiences. By analysing it in this way we are able to illustrate the often hidden realities for women who experience multiple discriminations. Our report reveals the extent of inequality faced by BME women, disabled women, LGBT women and women with caring responsibilities. The report is a call for action to improve workplace practice. With the current Covid-19 crisis, science and technology has never been more important, to respond adequately we need the best minds working in these sectors; that is why we must tackle all and any inequalities that act as a barrier to women’s participation.”

Mavis Amadi, a member of the Equate Scotland steering committee and a chartered engineer said:

“I welcome this report and the important insights it provides into the workplace experience for so many women. As a woman, a mother and a migrant, I have experienced inequality across these different parts of my identity, but I also know lots of employers are trying to change and create better working environments.”

An overview of the findings are below:

  • 60% of respondents had experienced sexism in the workplace or in their place of education
  • 1 in 3 women do not feel confident in reporting experiences of exclusion or discrimination to their employers. Within this:
    • Over half of disabled women stated they do not feel confident reporting experiences of exclusion or discrimination to their employers
    • Over half of BME women stated they do not feel confident reporting experiences of exclusion or discrimination to their employers
    • 50% of LGBT women stated they do not feel confident reporting experiences of exclusion or discrimination to their employers
  • 64% of women did not feel enough was being done to create inclusive workplaces or education institutions: Within this:
    • Over 80% of BME women who participated in our survey do not believe enough is being done to create inclusive workplaces or educational institutions
    • 70% of women over the age of 35 do not believe enough is being done to create inclusive workplaces or educational institutions
    • 74% of women with caring responsibilities who participated in our survey do not believe enough is being done to create inclusive workplaces or educational institutions
    • 90% of disabled women who participated in our survey do not believe enough is being done to create inclusive workplaces or educational institutions
    • Over 80% of LGBT women who participated in our survey do not believe enough is being done to create inclusive workplaces or educational institutions

The report recommendations include:

  • A call for investment in better data collection across the STEM labour market.
  • Affordable, flexible and realistic childcare and wider care support.
  • The development and dissemination of knowledge and understanding within policy makers and wider public of intersectional analysis and the impact of multiple discriminations.
  • Rolling out of more flexible working opportunities and an increase in the availability of quality part time work.
  • Radical change to workplace culture, through investment in evidence-based models of attitude change.
  • Increased transparency in recruitment and promotion processes.
  • Building confidence and efficacy in grievence reporting processes within organisations through transparency and support for those who have experienced discrimination.
  • Investment in mental health and wellbeing interventions within the workplace which deliver work through a gendered and intersectional lens.
  • Accessible STEM outreach to enable women with caring responsibilities, disabled women and women from low income backgrounds in particular, to fully benefit.

Read the report and our recommendations for Government, academia and industry in full.

if we don't tackle inequality in STEM... we will LOCK Women out of the jobs of the future