International Perspectives on Increasing Workforce Participation, Advancement and Leadership
Edited by Diana Bilimoria and Linley Lord
Chapter 1: An introduction to women in STEM careers: International perspectives on increasing workforce participation, advancement and leadership
The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) continually bring innovation and improvement to our daily lives as well as offer the potential for expansion of business and employment. Science and technology are applied to discover new opportunities and solve problems, and shape the formation, design, and development of new products and innovative production processes. An advanced science and technology enterprise offers distinctive national advantages to compete and win in today’s fast-paced global business environment. With this increasing importance of science and technology for global economic competitiveness and growth, considerable attention is being paid to these industries as career choices for women and men. Individuals with STEM expertise have become critical for the success of both industry and academe sectors as their talents are conducive to an increased capacity for innovation. Clearly, the full participation of women and men in STEM workforces is necessary to solidify and grow competitive advantage in the coming years and decades, yielding long-term benefits to national economies. Not surprisingly, in recent years there has been considerable focus in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia on increasing the number of women in STEM fields. Over the past 40 years, initiatives implemented and supported by government, industry, academic institutions, and companies have aimed to attract and retain women into these professions (National Academies, 2007; Australian Academy of Science, 2013).