DfE Women in STEM Steering Group 2021-22 Review

The Women in STEM Steering Group was convened in October 2020 to provide advice and strategic oversight to the Department for the Economy (DfE) in developing and implementing the recommendations outlined in the Matrix 2018 Women in STEM Report.

2018 Matrix Women in STEM report

The initial focus of the steering group was to support and oversee the creation of the Northern Ireland WISE Hub, which was formally launched by the DfE Minister in October 2020. Members were tasked with supporting the development of the hub to ensure that it had the best chance of success while meeting the Matrix recommendations.

During 2021, the steering group worked with stakeholders to develop a shared Vision and Action Plan for Women in STEM in Northern Ireland. Set against a rapidly evolving policy landscape, the steering group has supported the DfE through various activities to develop a plan for action on this agenda that will underpin the Department’s Vision for a 10X Economy and other complementary strategies to ensure that the necessary policies for progress are embedded.

This report provides an overview of the activities and achievements of the steering group in its first year and its ambitions for the future.

The DfE Women in STEM Action Plan

In March 2022 the steering group published the Northern Ireland Women in STEM Action Plan, co-designed with DfE as part of the 10x suite of documents.

Delivering the DfE’s Vision for a 10x Economy – an economy that is 10x more innovative, 10x more inclusive, 10x more sustainable – will require transformation in our skills system. It will mean working cohesively across our whole education system to address skills imbalances and drive increased participation in the In Demand STEM subjects that will underpin our economic success. This Action Plan sets out our response to this challenge.

Addressing the under-representation of women in STEM is critical to achieving our ambition. We must fix the significant and persistent shortfall in STEM skills that exists currently and must increase the skills pipeline to ensure that future demand for STEM skills is met. Encouraging more women into In Demand STEM subjects – and developing the skills pipeline to support them – is essential to achieving this.

This is not a straightforward task. The number of girls pursuing STEM to the point of employment has not changed since 2008, despite the significant efforts of government, business and schools to encourage them to do so. If the next decade continues as the last did, the number of girls pursuing STEM to the point of employment in Northern Ireland will remain at 21% of the STEM workforce and the gap with the rest of the UK will grow ever wider.

This document sets out our response to that challenge.

Further information

For further information, contact 10X Inclusive Growth.

Email 10xinclusion@economy-ni.gov.uk

Telephone: 028 9041 6954

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