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Survey to investigate STEM careers for women in Wales

Chwarae Teg (Fair Play), a Welsh Assembly Government agency specialising in economic development for women, has launched a survey on why women in Wales are less likely than men to be working in careers related to science, technology, engineering and maths.

According to Amy Kordiak, project development manager at Chwarae Teg, the aim of the project is to plug a gap in knowledge about why women in Wales are not progressing in STEM careers. “There was a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills report launched this year on women and STEM careers. But there has been nothing focused specifically on Wales,” she told Research Fortnight.

According to a Science Council workforce survey published last month, the proportion of women in Wales working in careers in which scientific knowledge is regularly applied is similar to the UK average, standing at around 35 per cent.

But the Chwarae Teg survey is intended to find out if there is anything specific to Wales and the Welsh job market that makes the country different from other parts of the UK in terms of women’s progress in STEM careers. “We’re hoping to see if there are any trends that are specific to Wales,” Kordiak says.

Diana Garnham, the chief executive of the Science Council, says there are a variety of areas to look at. “It could be a lack of part-time STEM work in Wales, a lack of careers advice or it could be to do with the characteristics of Welsh industry itself,” she said.

“If specific trends do appear, we’ll see if there’s anything we can do in terms of careers advice,” says Kordiak.

The survey is being carried out by TBR, an independent research company based in Newcastle, in partnership with the Science Council. It is the first of four studies to be conducted as part of a £12.5 million project called Agile Nation, aimed at promoting gender equality in employment. The project is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Social Fund, an EU scheme focused on improving employment opportunities.