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Careers in STEM Q4 2023

Shattering ceilings, igniting progress: the bottom line of gender parity in STEM

Shot of three businesspeople working in a modern office
Shot of three businesspeople working in a modern office
iStock / Getty Images Plus / PeopleImages

Kay Hussain

Chief Executive Officer, WISE

The business case for gender parity isn’t just a moral compass but an economic powerhouse. We must acknowledge this if we are to make lasting change.


The quest for gender balance, particularly in STEM, is much more than a virtuous endeavour — it’s a catalyst for economic growth. 

Awareness of STEM gender parity benefits

Naturally, when we think of gender imbalance in STEM, our minds wander towards glass ceilings, gender pay gaps and male-dominated boardrooms. It’s no wonder then, that when efforts are made to move the needle, they are done so with the goal of morality and ‘doing what’s fair.’

While this is reasonable, the quest for gender equality goes beyond the rhetoric of fairness and social justice. Becoming aware of the business benefits of gender parity is the first step to making real change in our workforces — and society.  

Business case for gender diversity 

Greater gender diversity makes a company more adaptable, productive and responsive to its customers; this, in turn, helps deliver better business results. It is well-known that STEM employers face ongoing skills shortages.

As such, the recruitment, retention and development of female talent will benefit employers as well as women who want to pursue a career in the field. WISE Campaign is a not-for-profit community interest company (CIC), which exists to deliver women-centred equity, diversity and inclusion solutions for the STEM sectors. They work with major UK organisations to improve gender balance, and they are open about the economic and business benefits of doing so. 

Greater gender diversity makes a company
more adaptable, productive and responsive
to its customers.

Gender balance as an economic imperative

WISE CEO Kay Hussain states that getting women into STEM is not a nice-to-have, but an ‘economic imperative.’ She explains: “Gender diversity provides a better choice of skilled workers, enhanced employee engagement and resultant productivity, a better platform for innovation and creativity and, therefore, improved customer experience and financial performance.”

Research by McKinsey confirms that creativity is associated with superior performance; it’s at the very heart of business innovation, and innovation is the growth engine. “Their findings showed organisations with better creativity scores outperformed their peers in crucial areas such as organic revenue growth, total return to shareholders and net enterprise value — what business wouldn’t want this?

She continues: “Women’s inclusion and equity have been a topic of debate for centuries. We now need to accelerate our collective efforts if the UK is to emerge as a STEM skills leader, and it’s essential for leaders to be part of the change they want to see.” 

For more information on WISE and how you can get involved, visit: wisecampaign.org.uk/

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