Careers in Science: Exploring a career that requires more women

Careers in science are arguably some of the most exciting, exploratory fields you can choose from. It involves studying the world around us, experimenting and creating better environments with engineering; helping with the design and creating of new and beneficial computer programs with mathematics, as well as finding new cures and innovative methods with medicine. Science and science careers offer the chance to explore, understand and discover the intricacies of people, our planet and the possibilities of the future.

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A career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, offers endless possibilities. It offers ways to re-engineer and discover the world and the opportunity for innovation, discovery and heightened performance in every industry.

Across the world, the focus on STEM, and careers in these various fields, have long since, mainly been directed at men, with women gaining very little traction into the space. Gender issues and stereotyping have played a major role, meaning women are often discouraged from taking related subjects at school or university that would open up doors to careers in science.

While gender stereotyping and the overall perception of women in science careers have led to a decline in women in the field, these are aspects that many governments, institutions and businesses, worldwide, have recognised and are now trying to combat.

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Strides have been made to overcome these issues over the last few decades and subsequently led to a rise in women in the various fields of STEM. This means more opportunities for women, and progress in overall gender and economic equality.

It has been shown that more emphasis on women in science, including environmental science jobs, leads to new ideas, opportunities and economic benefits for governments and businesses alike. All of which are due to a greater talent pool to choose from in extremely crucial areas of study, research and development.

This allows for more diverse workforces, different outlooks and ways to understand processes than ever before and adds different insight into phenomena and research. All of which highlights how women can add extraordinary value within the various fields be it in the field of forensic sciences or even social science jobs.

With increased focus on diversity and on women taking up more prominent roles, it is paving the way for new approaches to scientific problems, technical advancements, as well as innovative and ground-breaking global solutions.

Statistics regarding women in STEM Careers

While strides have been made, women still account for a much smaller percentage of those involved in scientific fields, also fields such as computer science jobs and forensic science jobs.

A report showcasing women’s representation in science, ‘Women for Science: Inclusion and Participation in Academies of Science’, based on findings from 69 members of IAP: The Global Network of Science Academies found that women are underrepresented in various fields.

The science academies that have the highest percentage of women represented are all under 30%, with the Cuban Academy of Sciences having 27%, the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, 26%, and the Academy of Science of South Africa being made up of 24% women.

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Within the various fields, women are more highly represented in social science jobs, which include humanities and art at 16%, biological sciences at 15%, as well as medical and health sciences at 14%. The report also found that within mathematical sciences and engineering sciences, women made up just 6% and 5% of the respective totals.

Showcasing opportunities in STEM fields and the various careers in science needs to start at a school level with an emphasis on the many prospects and benefits of these careers as well as role models identified. Encouragement to take up STEM subjects at school allows for different insight and understanding and opens minds as to the possibilities out there.

It has been estimated that by 2020, around 80% of jobs will be STEM related and significantly more beneficial to have studied. A range of studies has shown that there are still major opportunities for expansion.

A UNESCO study on female researchers across the world showed a staggering difference in the percentage of men and women involved in research and development. It showed that in Central and Eastern Europe, women accounted for 39.9%, in North America and Western Europe 32.0%. South and West Asia accounted for 18.9% and Sub-Saharan Africa had 30.0% involved. Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest percentages, at 47.1% and 44.3% respectively. In the United Kingdom, a report looking at diversity with STEM fields, produced by Campaign for Science and Engineering, showed that of those who were not involved in medical STEM positions, just 9% were women.

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When looking at Africa, you will find that, when it comes to science careers, women are the minority in the engineering and science fields. The Association of African Women in Science and Engineering estimated that, across Africa, women make up no more that 20% of the academics across the disciplines.

In South Africa, the Association of South African Women in Science and Engineering found that women only make up 40% of technologists, scientists and engineers.

While still vastly underrepresented, women do play a role in the STEM fields and it has been shown that there are extensive opportunities for growth.

Growth estimates, from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, indicate that in five years time, STEM related career fields are set to grow twice as fast as other fields.

Some of the different careers in science

These careers span industries, continents and offer opportunities often unrivalled in the workplace. These can include computer science jobs, engineering, and software development, all of which equip those with skills that are in demand worldwide.

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Environmental Science Jobs

An interesting and diverse field of study, environmental science jobs and the careers that are associated with this field are as varied as they are exciting. From Zoology and Horticulture, to Wildlife Management and Ecology, environmental science combines various sciences (like biology and physical sciences) in order to study the environment as well as the problems it faces in our modern world.

If you would like to explore environmental science and the careers within this field a little deeper, be sure to read our ‘Choose a career in Environmental Science’ blog post.

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Computer science

Computer science allows you to learn programming, explore software development, build web applications, write algorithms and understand operating systems. Specialising in computer science jobs means a career that is always evolving, including computer security, web programming, artificial intelligence, mobile applications, game development and many more.

Social Sciences

As with environmental science, social science jobs also serve as a major category to a range of disciplines and career choices. Social science focuses on the society as whole, the individuals within that society as well as the relationship within societies and between individuals.

These types of careers in science range to include everything from political science and economics, to psychology, anthropology and even archaeology. You can learn more about the different career paths by reading our ‘Jobs you can get with a Social Science degree’ post.

Engineering

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Engineering also offers almost limitless possibilities, with electronic, computer and electrical engineering options. Engineering allows for exploration and discovery in a range of fields, including the study of electrons and a range of equipment that runs on electricity. Careers range from those working with mobile devices, satellites, robotics and nanotechnology.

If you have an interest in engineering, don’t forget to read Women’s space programme launch in South Africa.

Forensic Science Jobs

Involving the application of science within the field of law (including both criminal and civil law), forensic science jobs involve the collection, examination and analysis of information from, for example, a crime scene. Using science and scientific techniques, professionals within these science careers work in different forensic areas such as biology, toxicology and even chemistry.

If you would like to learn more about the different types of forensic jobs, be sure to read our post tilted ‘Forensic Jobs: Explore a career in the world of CSI

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Any and every STEM field offers the chance to work in an exciting, innovative and ever-changing environment and an influx of women into these fields promises more opportunities, growth and discovery for all.

If you have a deep passion for careers in science, why not register your CV on Job Mail and apply for positions that open up doors to exciting science careers in South Africa.

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Careers in Science: Exploring a career that requires more women
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