Future You transcript

Getting women into STEM webinar

June, 2021

This is a transcript of the getting women into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) webinar held on Tuesday 18 May as part of the Future You series


Host: Ellie Reynolds


  • Tehreem Sheikh, CEO/co-founder of Hire STEM Women
  • Samantha Smith, Capgemini
  • Hibaag Rooble, Microsoft

Episode transcript

Ellie: So welcome, everyone. This is our next webinar in our series, our Prospects Future You webinars. This is getting women into STEM and today we have Tehreem Sheikh, who is CEO of Hire STEM women who will be talking to you about getting women into STEM. Tehreem over to you.

Tehreem: Can everyone hear me all right? I'm assuming so. Good morning everyone hope you are having a very good morning and today I'm going to be talking about how to get women into STEM careers. And I'm assuming everyone can see my slide and so I will walk through that with you. And so if we go on to the first slide. Today, we really believe here at Hire STEM women that in a world where every single person has access to technology, women can make an impact.

Today, I'll give you an overview of the agenda. So I'll be giving a little introduction, and giving you a little bit of an explanation as to why the gender gap in STEM industries exist, what barriers young women currently face? And why is increasing female representation in STEM industries so important, and what is being done in the STEM sector to encourage more women into STEM careers. I'll also introduce you to our alumni network, I have Samantha Smith from Capgemini who'll give an introduction into her role and also Hibaag Rooble from Microsoft giving a talk about their career journey in collaboration with Hire STEM women.

So why does the gender gap exists? So a few real reasons behind the gender gap in STEM science, technology, engineering, and maths, it's really stereotypes. So things that I mean, when I was a lot younger, probably around my early 20s, I studied electrical engineering at university in my first year. And one of the misconceptions I had was oh you don't look like someone who would have done engineering. And so it's just those stereotypes or what does an engineer look like? Bearing in mind I'm not a professional engineer so just to give it a give a bit of insight into my background. It’s really those stereotypes that need to change, the constant persistent discrimination and so being judged because you're a woman in the STEM workforce, but you know, things are changing. But it's that persistent discrimination around why the gender gap exists, and be having more men in senior roles. While things are improving slowly, but surely, but there is a real need to introduce more female role models at that senior leadership level. And then, of course, most importantly, the lack of investment in female-led initiatives. So really, these are a few of the reasons why we feel the gender gap exists in the STEM industry.

So one of the barriers that currently are faced by women in the industry, or especially at an early tech talent perspective. So in 2020, we did a survey with around 2,500 female students and this is what some of the things that they had to say and maybe some of you can relate to as well. So one of them is actually the perception. So the perception to have knowledge of coding languages for a technology career. So often, when we recruit, we often get asked, you know, do I have to have an knowledge on python? Or do I have to have an understanding of HTML to land my first role in technology? Well, not necessarily, because there are so many graduate programs out there that will give you the training and tools to equip you for a career within the industry and there's a lot of support available, and I'll kind of talk a little bit more about that later on.

So one of the other barriers that people stated that they faced was having a specialist degree. So the need to have a computer science degree to progress in a STEM career. Not necessarily, as I mentioned, I mean, there's a lot of support available, you can get into apprenticeships, if you're at a school leaver stage, but of course there are a lot of training and tools available to actually break those barriers. And then the ability to ace assessments with organisations and this is something that we can completely understand when you're doing a lot of you know, you're in your final year at university, for example, and you're applying for internships and graduate schemes and the idea of doing psychometric tests can be quite daunting. So there's a lot of pressure and perceptions and barriers that, you know, students do face when it comes to applying for jobs within the industry. But there is hope. And, of course I'll talk about that a little bit later on. And then most, one of the other reasons, the barriers that we found was the gender pay gap. So according to Capgemini, and research was done around gender pay gap reports, and also women in STEM fields tend to have higher salaries than women in non-STEM fields, there's still an existence of gender pay gap in STEM professions. This is just to give you an insight into the barriers that you know, females are faced in the industry.

So why is increasing female representation in STEM industry so important?

Well, did you know 6 billion pounds are invested in, you know, is available in venture capital funding in 2018 according to Tech Nation and Britain's technology industry is absolutely booming so there's definitely a market and demand for technology. And as you can see, from this figure, there's a lot of funding available for the tech sector. And according to Tech Nation, around 80%, of tech investment in the UK is in fast growing businesses, which essentially is creating new jobs, products and innovative services. However, women are missing out on this entrepreneurial success when making up just 17% of IT specialists in the UK, the number is quite low.

So I'd actually like to start off with a poll. And so one of my questions is can you name a female in technology? So you should get a screen at the top of your well on front of you, which is telling you can you name a female in tech and if you just actually select yes or no from your screens, I can actually share the results. And there's a reason why I'm asking this question.

So actually, around 32% of you said you can name some a female in technology, and 68% of you mentioned that you're not able to name a female in technology. So I'll go on to my next slide.

So, a research term by PwC Women's Network found that 78% of students can't name a famous female working in technology, hence why I asked you all to select yes and no in the poll and it reflects on the study that they did. So 78% of students can't name a famous female working in technology. 3% of females say a career in technology is the first choice and a greater gender balance is definitely required as 3% is definitely a low number. And then 23% of people working in STEM roles in the UK are females. So let's change perceptions and fight for change. And then, unfortunately, around 5% of leadership positions in the technology industries are held by women. So we definitely need more equal opportunities in the industry despite various initiatives.

A quick information session, so did you know 40% so around, so companies with more women on their boards were found to outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital, and 53% higher return on equity by women on boards. So there's definitely a lot that we can do.

So what has been done in the STEM sectors to encourage more women to STEM careers?

So here at Hire STEM women, we're extremely passionate about helping women progress into STEM careers. And we have a lot of training and a lot of support available for women who want to progress within science, technology, engineering and maths careers. And you don't necessarily need to have a STEM degree to progress in these industries there is a wealth of support available to help you ace assessments with companies, to help you build your confidence when it comes to video interviews especially in a digital era that we're actually in at the moment due to COVID.

As I mentioned, we're huge in supporting women in STEM careers. And we work with quite a lot of organisations to provide the opportunities within the sectors and I will show you quite a few of the organisations we work with. And in terms of kind of our process, so we encourage people to register on our website and one of our recruitment team gets in touch with you and actually really wants to understand the challenges that you face. And then we build a bespoke training and coaching program to help you build confidence in going into STEM industries. And one of the ways we give individuals access to STEM careers as we host various several virtual events with leading industry partner firms to give you access to unlimited opportunities. And during the pandemic, we invited over 10 plus organisations to give over 300 plus women access to STEM careers.

And how you can really get support from Hire STEM women. So I won't go into too much detail conscious of time. However, the recruitment process is pretty straightforward. So you register online and fill out a few details, get invited to exclusive events, and be the first to hear about opportunities within STEM. So it could be through events, coaching, training, insight into various different career specialisms within STEM. We have a team who would sit down with you and discuss your profile and you'd have a dedicated coach to help you build confidence then essentially helping you give get unlimited access to different opportunities within the industry. And it's very exclusive to you.

Okay, the slide is not showing up. So I'd like you to meet Samantha Smith. So I'll mute myself and Samantha Smith I don't know if you can hear us so I’ll let you log in and I’ll hide myself now.

Sam: Hello everyone hope everyone is doing really well. So I am Samantha Smith, or Sam Smith and I actually studied at the University of Reading and I actually did a business management degree.

I was a graduate in 2020 so during the height of the pandemic, and I was extremely nervous that I wouldn't find a job that I enjoyed and I was really into tech, even though I was business based. So I had a module in second and third year, which I did infosystems, which basically touched upon different information systems and how they worked. And I actually came across a SAP and I thought oh wow, this is amazing. So I'm actually currently employed by Capgemini at the moment and I am working as a SAP functional specialist, which is crazy to even say now. And it's basically based on client requirements, I test and design systems and I work with developers and one of the projects I've been working on has just gone live, but it's been quite a big one so very, very happy.

In terms of gender gap in STEM, I think there definitely is a gap. I think it's quite biased. I think you kind of walk into a room and you expect to see loads of men and that kind of scares women from going ahead and looking into these careers. When I was applying for jobs in 2020 after graduating I was trying to apply for tech but I was more going for business because I guess we're just more comfortable with going something where we see more of each other in I guess. So it was challenging to find a job in 2020 but luckily I bumped into Hire STEM women by chance, very lucky.

So I had a coach call me and explain the role and the process and they explained how Hire STEM woman would help me at every stage. So with Capgemini there are a few stages to get into the process so there are interviews, psychometrics, presentations there are quite a lot. And my coach was so helpful we had regular calls, and she was constantly there when I needed her, I could always send her a text and she'd message whenever she could back. So she offered me help by giving me information packs on the company, kind of what they expect to see the key skills. I had trial interviews with her and I also sent her many presentations where I talk about STEM and science and technology and she'd helped me and helped me raise my awareness and I think Higher STEM and what they do is they make you become confident in who you are. So I knew that I was I knew I was going to be a tech girl to be honest and I think Higher STEM women really gave me that push to kind of get there and apply for the job and just show me how to better present myself in the field. They were constantly supportive and honestly my coach felt like my best friend like when I got the job and I called her up she was so so supportive, and Tehreem actually reached out and messaged me and congratulated me, which is also such a nice little touch. So not only this, but working with Hire STEM women like it means that I'm a part of the alumni and I've been given so many opportunities even post getting the job with Capgemini. So we always keep in regular contact and I always get opportunities working with places like Prospects or I'll be on their Instagram sometime soon, if you want to check that out. So yeah, there's a lot of opportunities that Hire STEM Women, they don't just leave, you want to get the job, they're always there to coach you and they will always be there. So as an alumni, I'm very happy I started in Capgemini in September, and I'm very happy my job and it's still my dream job. And I think that is all thanks to Hire STEM Women for giving me that push.

Tehreem: Thank you so much for that information. So I mean, we're so pleased to have helped you out to land your dream role. I'd like to move on to the next slide and introduce Hibaag Rooble. And so I'll flow you into the conversation. So I'll just hide myself again.

Hibaag: That's great thank you Tehreem. Good afternoon everyone apologies I can't turn my camera on at the moment however it's really great to be here and to see so many of you attend the call. So as Tehreem said my name is Hibaag Rooble and I'm a banking technical specialist within financial services at Microsoft started there same time as Sam in September of last year. I didn't do a tech degree so I came from an accounting and finance background that's what I studied at Birmingham City University so graduated same time as Sam in 2020 during the pandemic, and prior to that, I had done an internship placement year during my penultimate year at university at EY, because I thought that I wanted to become an accountant was going down the financial route, and then quickly realised, once I started work, that that maybe wasn't the career path for me.

So I just took the time to really explore the different industries available, I did a coding course for three months where I just learnt the fundamentals of CSS, JavaScript, just to really see if that's something that I wanted to do and to pick up a new skill. I realised that coding wasn't 100% for me, but tech was definitely something that I was interested in and so after that, when I came back to university for my final year, I reached out to Hire STEM Women and I applied to them. And the first thing I did was sent my CV to them as I wanted to apply for tech roles, and quickly realized that my CV was very financey, and needed to become more of a tech type CV, and there certain specific things that they look for and what I found extremely useful was Hire STEM Women provided me with a coach, and I worked with her to get my CV up to the standard that I needed to be, and to make sure that I applied the relevant experience on there so that I could apply for the jobs and have a chance to actually get through the first stages.

Hire STEM Women also helped me with attending a women in tech event at Microsoft, which is actually where my first interest of Microsoft came from. And Tehreem was there and she introduced me to the recruitment people, the people that she had in contact with, and it was fantastic, because it gave me an insight into the company and it really motivated me to apply for them. Having then worked with my coach back and forth to really get my CV up to top notch I've got through the first couple of rounds. And then with my assessment centre, I got an information pack and I had, honestly, more support than I've had from university or any type of sort of company that I've gone to for help and I'm indebted to them forever, because of their support and their help have been able to land this job and it has been honestly a dream even though we've been working during a pandemic, it's been fantastic. I'm getting to work with the latest technology to be able to provide, you know, our banking customers with digital transformations and it's something that I think is a great mix between finance and tech for myself. So I would say yeah, this is the perfect role for me. I would implore you all to give it a go because the support you get is second to none and yeah, I've had a really positive experience. So thank you. And as Sam said, post job it's not like you just get let go I'm always in contact with Tehreem, anything that I need, anything that she needs is a real great relationship that you build and you're part of this alumni and you have this network of other, you know, graduates who have landed jobs as well that you can leverage, and it's just a great, great network to have.

Tehreem: Alright, I'm back. Thank you so much for that Hibaag it's really kind and it's always a great pleasure to work with you. So I'll go to the next slide and I'm really open to taking any questions anyone has so please feel free to put it in the comment section or type so I'll try and monitor it while I'm here. So I've got three questions already. So let's have a look and see.

Is the support offered by Higher STEM Women free for students and graduates? Yes, absolutely. It's completely free.

And Sophie, would quantity surveying be offered as a STEM career? Yes, it can. So if you wanted to, I'll give you our contact details so you can have a chat with our coaches.

What advice would you give for a BA graduate hoping to undertake an MSc in computing with UX? So first of all, I think it's really useful. So the way we typically work, so if you were interested in that specific career, we'd ask you to register your details on our website, and would then pair you up with a coach who would actually go through your CV and actually give you ideas on what you can take to what kind of skills you need to build up upon to get a career within that particular industry. So I'll give you our contact details And then you can we can pair you up with a coach, you can actually go through that with you in more detail.

Just going through more questions.

So, Nigel, thank you. Thank you for your question. So how competitive is the recruitment process for Higher STEM Women? So we have a very open approach. And so what we want to do, we don't want to limit people with opportunities. And especially since it's been a very difficult year for a lot of students, and due to COVID. So we would just ask you to register your details on our website, we match you up with a coach, and we're very realistic and honest, in terms of what we can do. And that I mean, we are specialists in STEM careers so most of the opportunities that we do you get are specific to kind of science, technology, engineering and maths, but anyone can really apply. And it's not that competitive. Well, I wouldn't say it was competitive, it would only get competitive, depending on the company you want to work for, and the recruitment process. And that's why we coach people throughout the application process so that they can get that confidence because these recruitment processes are definitely not easy hence why we have such a bespoke approach. Hope that answers your question.

Is the support open to students outside the UK? Esther thank you for that question. And so we accept international students on our platform, but it's the kind of visa side of things that kind of comes down to the companies and whether they sponsor them or not. So we do encourage everyone to register and depending on whatever the situation is with any of the companies that we work with, and we would still work with you to build your confidence.

Just going on to more questions.

So Madora Ramset, where or how can I be part of STEM? I'm assuming you mean to say how you can be part of our community. So I will move on to the next slide and see once we've finished the Q&A, and actually give you all our contact details on how you can kind of register and get in touch and you know, feel free to get in touch through us through Prospects as well and be happy to give you all the registration details as well.

Just going through quite a lot of questions.

So Kate, thank you, Kate Ayres if I'm saying that correctly, apologies if I'm not pronouncing names correctly, but please, I wish there was a way people could correct me. But does Hire STEM Women engage with universities and run sessions for students? Yes absolutely so we work with quite a lot of universities, we've got partnerships with over 90 universities. I'm not sure which university you're from and so we would be happy to kind of have a conversation with you and do sessions as well to help  with confidence boosting sessions, STEM career sessions. So there's a lot we do with universities, and I'm happy to send more information on that as well.

Linda Skoon, is typing speed important to work in IT? Not necessarily I mean I think it's all about what you I'm a strong believer of quality over quantity. And when it comes to these things, so it's typing speed important. So I think it comes down to what quality of work you can produce for any particular given company. And speed is also important because it comes down to depending on what industry you get end up specialising in and how fast paced it is and so it's all about adapting to ever changing situations and, you know, speed, sometimes you need to respond quickly to things. But I guess it comes down to what industry you end up specialising in, and what STEM sector you go into.

So there's quite a lot of questions. So excuse my silence, I'm just going through them.

So Lucian is it mainly for careers in technology, or also in life sciences? And so we are specialists in technology talent, but we do cover other areas of STEM as well so sciences, engineering and mathematical careers to.

So Natalie Romero I'm starting a Masters in genomics this September, would I be eligible for STEM help? Yeah, absolutely and register on our website, and we'd be happy to kind of support you.

And Lucia Recon I’m driving STEM outreach activities within the company I work for, and looking to provide more opportunities for women specifically. Do you have any advice tips on how to go about doing this? Yeah, absolutely. So um, there's a lot that you can do. And I'm happy to kind of set some time aside and go through that in a lot more detail. And so please feel free to email us and I'd be happy to kind of give you more tips in a lot more detail.

Would we be able to contact you anytime after this call if we have a question? Yes absolutely, please feel free to add me on LinkedIn, I'm happy to answer questions that's absolutely fine.

Victoria Toms, if someone's degree is in health studies, is there a way to make a breakthrough in STEM? Absolutely. There's no you don't need to come from a technology background to go into STEM there's lots of different routes you can take.

So Rhea Sharma, how closely do Hire STEM Women coaches work with their graduates to find a career that best fits them? Oh, very closely, as Sam and Hibagg mentioned earlier on you have a dedicated coach working with you. And we're very realistic and we don't want to promise, you know, the world and moon, but we are very realistic in our approach and just to kind of manage expectations as well. So yeah, that's kind of how we work with coaches. If you register on our website, get in touch with us an email, and we pair you up with a coach, and you can have a thorough discussion with them.

And I've just got a notification of one last question, and conscious it’s 11.30 now. So, Amanda Watson, so what famous women are there in STEM, a few names would be useful? So I'll take you to my next slide so one of the famous women we have is Sheryl Sandberg she's the chief operating officer for Facebook, and she said, if you're offered a seat on a rocket ship don't ask what seat just get on. That's my tip as well, to everyone. And here's all our details, and feel free to get in touch with us and I'll hand over to Ellie who will conclude the session.

Ellie: Thank you so much that was that was so informative, and I hope all of our attendees took something from it as well. It was really brilliant to hear about women actually going into STEM and the journey that they took and how happy they are with that as well. So that was really positive message there. If you'd like to watch the webinar again we will be sending out the on demand link later on today to everybody that's registered if you'd like to pass the link on to friends as well if you think it would be informative, that would be really great too. And just thank you again from Higher STEM Women and enjoy the rest of the day guys. Bye.

Transcript ends.

Note on transcripts

These transcripts are produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.

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