In the third and final part of our series on women in medtech, based on research by AXA HealthTech & You, Tina Woods talks to female pioneers about the importance of visibility for mentors and high achievers in medtech.
In almost every society, gender stereotyping is evident from an early age and is shaped by ideas passed on from parents, family members and society. From the classroom to the boardroom, there’s an urgency to help empower girls from the start of their career through strong role models and positive reinforcement.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, Sarah Atkinson, Board Member and Vice Chair Diversity & Skills Council, techUK, says ‘the UK’s ability to innovate and advance is threatened by the chronic STEM skills gap. Bold moves are needed to shift young people’s negative perceptions of STEM subjects and prepare them with 21st century skills and competencies to thrive in a digital world.’
Jacqueline De Rojas, CBE and President of techUK, wants to raise the share of women in the tech workforce from 17 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020 through the Tech Talent Charter and other initiatives she leads to encourage more women to enter tech careers, especially as Britain prepares itself as a global technological powerhouse post-Brexit. De Rojas believes that the UK can become the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Europe and create a digital nation of significance, but this can only happen if the industry creates a talent pool large enough to support the number of jobs required to stay at the forefront of innovation.
So how do we create this pool? Many believe a lack of accessible role models is a key reason girls do not choose to pursue STEM careers – they aren’t aware of the roles available to them, the types of people who take these roles or the path they would need to take to get there. Sherry Coutu CBE, 2017 winner of the Most Influential Women in UK IT, is a serial entrepreneur who believes in the power of using visible role models to encourage children into higher education and careers in STEM. She says, ‘one of the things that rings in my ears is, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’. Apple Co-founder, Steve Wozniak, agrees too, saying ‘women need to see visually how successful they can be…’ in his interview with Robyn Foyster, owner and publisher of Women Love Tech.
This sentiment is echoed in a recent survey of women health entrepreneurs in which the top three things most often cited to encourage more women to start a business in the digital health industry are:
- Encourage more girls/women to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at GCSE, A-level and degree level
- Wider awareness and access to female tech role models (eg Martha Lane Fox of Lastminute.com, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook)
- More mentorships/sponsorships available for women
Marija Butkovic, Founder of Women of Wearables (WoW), tries to help women overcome this imposter syndrome by offering a network and a voice to her growing community WoW. She says, ‘a big problem is that women don’t get the visibility – and this is what WoW tries to tackle, by giving women visibility and creating a domino effect…’
Read the full story here.
This blog was written by Tina Woods and originally published on Medech Engine.