Empowering Women in STEM: The Drive for Diversity and the Role of Grants

engineering careers  Empowering Women in STEM: The Drive for Diversity and the Role of Grants

London-based manufacturing specialist, Get It Made has announced a strategic initiative to support female entrepreneurs in the STEM sectors. Recognizing the underrepresentation of women in fields such as engineering, design, tech, and manufacturing, the company offers a £5,000 grant tailored exclusively for female-led businesses. This initiative is not just about financial assistance; it’s a commitment to bolster innovation and promote gender inclusivity in historically male-dominated industries.

The application window for this grant remains open until midnight on Monday, 31st July and can be submitted through their website. The importance of such initiatives goes beyond the immediate financial boost. It’s about providing a platform for female entrepreneurs, acknowledging their contributions, and ensuring their innovative ideas receive the support they deserve.

In its inaugural year, the initiative garnered attention across the UK, with hundreds of applications underscoring the demand for such opportunities. As the application cycle progresses, it serves as a reminder of the continuous efforts required to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields. Through strategic support and recognition, the path to achieving greater gender parity in these industries becomes more defined.

The Current Landscape: Women in STEM

Women in STEM

The STEM sectors, encompassing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, have long been recognized as pivotal drivers of innovation and economic growth. Yet, despite the advancements and breakthroughs, a glaring disparity remains in the underrepresentation of women. Female-led businesses, especially in engineering and tech, often navigate a landscape that their male counterparts have traditionally dominated.

This disparity isn’t just a matter of numbers. It’s about untapped potential, missed opportunities, and the broader implications for industries that thrive on diverse perspectives. The reasons for this gender gap are multifaceted, ranging from societal perceptions and biases to systemic challenges in recruitment and retention.

Director of Get It Made, Luke Smoothy, aptly points out that while there’s been an increase in women taking on roles in STEM, a significant cultural shift is still needed. The gender gap isn’t just a challenge for the present; it reflects deep-rooted biases that begin at a young age. Addressing this requires a comprehensive approach, tackling workplace disparities and societal perceptions that shape career choices.

Moreover, the consequences of this underrepresentation extend beyond the STEM sectors. It impacts the broader economy, innovation pipelines, and the competitive positioning of businesses. In an era where diversity is increasingly recognized as a strength, the need to address this gap becomes not just a moral imperative but a business one.

The Power of Grassroots Change

One of the most effective ways to instigate lasting Change is to start at the grassroots level. The gender disparities we observe professionally are often rooted in early life experiences and societal norms. Addressing the gender gap in STEM isn’t just about creating opportunities in the present; it’s about reshaping perceptions from the ground up.

Manufacturing expert and Director of Get It Made, Luke Smoothy, emphasizes the importance of challenging and changing these deep-seated beliefs. From a young age, children are often exposed to stereotypical notions about gender roles. For instance, the toys marketed to girls often revolve around domestic chores and caregiving, while mechanical and technical toys predominantly target boys. Such distinctions, subtle as they may seem, play a significant role in shaping aspirations and self-perceptions.

To truly bridge the gender gap in STEM, promoting inclusivity and diversity from early childhood is crucial. By challenging these stereotypes and introducing children to broader possibilities, we can foster a generation that approaches STEM without the baggage of biased perceptions.

Smoothy’s perspective underscores the need for a holistic approach. It’s about more than addressing the symptoms but getting to the root of the problem. By focusing on elementary learning and everyday experiences, we can start to dismantle the unconscious biases that have persisted for far too long. Only then can we see a STEM landscape that genuinely reflects the diversity and potential of its participants?

The Business Case for Diversity

In today’s globalized and interconnected world, diversity is more than just a buzzword; it’s a strategic imperative. Beyond the moral and ethical reasons for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, a compelling business case must be made. Diverse teams bring many perspectives, fostering innovation, enhancing problem-solving, and driving better decision-making.

A 2020 report shed light on the tangible benefits of diverse teams. Such teams perform better and excel in talent acquisition, member engagement, and employee retention. In stark contrast, businesses that overlook the importance of DE&I often find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, missing out on the rich tapestry of ideas and solutions that diverse teams bring.

Luke Smoothy, Director of Get It Made, highlights that even in 2023, women continue to be underrepresented, underpaid, and often face discrimination in many industries. Such disparities are detrimental not just to the individuals affected but also to businesses at large. Industries inadvertently limit their growth potential and innovation capabilities by sidelining a significant portion of the talent pool.

Furthermore, the business benefits of DE&I extend beyond internal team dynamics. Companies that champion diversity often resonate better with a global customer base, reflecting their audience’s varied needs and perspectives. In an age where brand values and corporate responsibility play a significant role in consumer choices, a commitment to DE&I can also enhance a company’s reputation and market positioning.

The Role of Grants and Scholarships

In the form of grants and scholarships, financial support is pivotal in levelling the playing field and catalyzing Change. For many aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs, especially women in STEM, such support can be the difference between an idea taking flight or remaining just a dream.

The £5,000 grant offered by Get It Made is a testament to the transformative power of financial backing. Tailored exclusively for female-led enterprises in engineering, design, tech, and manufacturing, this grant isn’t just about funds; it’s a vote of confidence, an affirmation of potential, and a tangible step towards fostering gender inclusivity in STEM sectors.

However, the role of grants and scholarships extends beyond individual beneficiaries. They send a powerful message to the industry and society at large. They underscore the importance of diversity, highlight the untapped potential of underrepresented groups, and challenge the status quo. These initiatives empower individuals to break barriers, challenge stereotypes, and contribute meaningfully to their fields by providing the necessary resources and support.

Luke Smoothy emphasizes the pressing need for more such initiatives from the government and the private sector. Supporting women in industries like engineering and manufacturing isn’t just a social responsibility; it’s a strategic move. As more companies recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce and the unique perspectives women bring to the table, grants and scholarships become critical drivers in facilitating this shift.

In essence, while individual grants can propel specific businesses or professionals forward, the cumulative impact of such initiatives can reshape industries, fostering a more inclusive, innovative, and equitable STEM landscape.

About Get It Made

In the dynamic manufacturing world, Get It Made stands out for its services, vision, and commitment to Change. Founded in 2011 by Director Luke Smoothy with a modest £200, the company was birthed from a simple yet profound mission: to simplify manufacturing. Luke’s firsthand experience with the complexities of the manufacturing process inspired him to offer a more streamlined solution that prioritized quality, competitive pricing, and clear communication.

Fast forward to today, and Get It Made has evolved into a multi-million-pound enterprise headquartered in London and serving clients globally. With an ISO 9001 Accreditation, the company has become a trusted manufacturing partner for numerous businesses, offering a comprehensive suite of manufacturing processes.

The company believes that its recent grant initiative for female entrepreneurs in STEM is a testament to Get It Made’s broader vision. Beyond manufacturing, the company is deeply invested in driving positive Change, championing diversity, and paving the way for a more inclusive future in STEM sectors.

Director of Get It Made, Luke Smoothy explained to us that “Change won’t happen overnight, it’s a continuous uphill battle, one which we need to keep consistently, actively chipping away at. A critical part of that is to go back to basics to effectively tackle what is a systematic problem which has created an unconscious bias, and it emanates from a really young age. We need to nip stereotypical and sexist perceptions in the bud through elementary learning, not just in school but also in everyday life.”

“For instance, toys for girls are still based more around domestic chores and raising children, whereas mechanical toys are still mainly marketed towards boys. We need to see more inclusivity and diversity from a young age. I think this is the only effective way of changing these stereotypical beliefs, which have been prevalent for too long, to establish and nurture fundamental skills and confidence in children.

“To be repeating the same narrative in 2023 that we have been saying for many years, that women are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated against in many industries is simply not good enough. There is a compelling business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), as backed by a 2020 report which revealed that diverse teams perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged members, and retain workers better than those that do not focus on diversity and inclusion.”

The Path Forward for Women in STEM

The journey towards achieving gender parity in STEM is multifaceted, requiring concerted efforts from individuals, businesses, and society. While significant strides have been made, the road ahead remains filled with challenges. However, initiatives like the grant offered by Get It Made serve as powerful reminders of possible progress when resources, support, and vision align.

The importance of women in STEM cannot be overstated. Their unique perspectives, innovative ideas, and resilience contribute immensely to the growth and evolution of these sectors. As we move forward, more businesses must recognize the value of diversity and take proactive steps to support and uplift women in these fields.

Luke Smoothy’s insights and Get It Made’s commitment highlight a broader industry trend. The realization that diversity isn’t just a moral imperative but a business one is gaining traction. With more companies offering grants, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities, the future for women in STEM looks promising.

In closing, the call to action is clear: to continue championing women in STEM, to challenge biases, and to create an environment where talent thrives, irrespective of gender. Through collective efforts, a more inclusive, innovative, and equitable STEM landscape is not just a vision but an achievable reality.

The deadline for grant applications is midnight on 31st July 2023 and can be submitted through their website.

  • London-based manufacturing specialist, Get It Made offers a £5,000 grant to support female entrepreneurs in STEM.
  • The gender gap in STEM arises from societal perceptions and systemic challenges.
  • Early education and societal norms play a significant role in shaping career choices in STEM.
  • Diverse workplace teams drive innovation and better decision-making and have proven business benefits.
  • Financial support, like grants and scholarships, can be transformative for aspiring professionals, especially women in STEM.
  • Get It Made, founded by Luke Smoothy, aims to simplify manufacturing and champions diversity in STEM.
  • The journey towards gender parity in STEM requires collective efforts, with businesses playing a pivotal role.