The Gender Gap in STEM: Are we losing female talent to more gender diverse STEM opportunities abroad?

Gender diversity remains an ever-evolving narrative, shaped by global trends and societal shifts. The statistics speak volumes, revealing a persistent gender gap that permeates education, workforce, and the corporate realms. 

Gender diversity remains an ever-evolving narrative, shaped by global trends and societal shifts. The statistics speak volumes, revealing a persistent gender gap that permeates education, workforce, and the corporate realms. 

According to a STEM Education Review Group report, there is a large gender gap in STEM roles globally. In 2023, women make up 28% of the STEM workforce. Here are some statistics on the gender gap in STEM in different countries:  

  • United States: 24% 

  • European Union: 17% 

  • Ireland: 13.9% 

  • UK: 17% 

  • Canada: 18% 

Women are outpacing men in tertiary education and advancing into STEM disciplines. However, women still lag behind men in STEM areas that are associated with higher paid jobs. In some instances, Irish females in STEM may perceive better prospects for career advancement abroad, where companies actively invest in nurturing and promoting the talents of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. 

Intriguingly, Ireland stands out on a global scale for its lower gender pay gap compared to the European Union average of 16.7%, as well as the pay gaps in the UK, US, and Canada. This raises a compelling question: Why, despite a lower representation of women in STEM, does Ireland boast a more equitable pay structure? The catalyst for this renewed commitment is undoubtedly the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021, which became operational on May 31, 2022. Irish companies are at different stages of preparing for this new legislation as it will roll out in phases: 

  • In 2022 for employers with a minimum of 250 employees 

  • From 2024 for employers with a minimum of 150 employees 

  • From 2025 for employers with a minimum of 50 employees 

As the new year unfolds, Irish companies are prioritising the reduction of the gender pay gap, spurred by both legislative mandates and a genuine commitment to fostering workplace equality. 
What’s holding women in STEM back from pursuing careers in STEM In Ireland: 

Ireland has the highest percentage of female STEM graduates in the EU. In 2020, 42% of STEM graduates in Ireland were women, compared to an EU average of 28%. This is a positive trend, as more female graduates could lead to a more balanced workforce in the future. Research conducted by Villanova University in 2020 sheds light on a crucial aspect of the gender disparity in STEM careers. The study demonstrated that women exhibit competence equal to that of men when undertaking tasks, regardless of their complexity. If so, then why are we still seeing a gap in women working in STEM? Women often encounter societal perceptions that cast them as naturally unsuited for subjects like mathematics or physics, pushing them towards roles traditionally associated with creativity or caregiving.  

Ways to inspire and support women in pursuing STEM careers in Ireland 

Now that we have insight into the mental and professional obstacles hindering women from pursuing STEM careers in Ireland, what strategies can be employed to enhance the experiences and opportunities for women currently employed within the company? 

Irish women are making significant strides in cutting-edge notable examples include: 

  • Edel Creely: President of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec), she also established Trilogy Technologies in 2009 and has since grown it into one of the leading IT Managing Services on the Irish market. 

  • Abigail Slater: A cybersecurity expert known for her work in safeguarding critical infrastructure against cyber threats. Originally from Dublin, was selected to serve as an advisor on technology, telecommunications, and cybersecurity matters to the President within the US National Economic Council.

Highlighting these trailblazing women in the industry is crucial. By showcasing their achievements on internal social platforms and the company website, and encouraging them to share their success stories, it can serve as inspiration and motivation for other women in STEM, fostering aspirations for their own careers. 

There are a growing number of initiatives to support women in STEM in Ireland. These initiatives provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help women succeed in STEM careers. Some examples include: 

Ireland has the potential to be a global leader in diversity and inclusion in STEM. 

With its strong foundation in STEM education and a growing number of initiatives to support women, Ireland has the potential to be a global leader in diversity and inclusion in STEM. By continuing to invest in these initiatives and by challenging unconscious bias, Ireland can create a future where women are equally represented in all STEM fields. The improvement is apparent, in 2018, only 25% of people working in STEM industries in Ireland were women. However, the number of women working in engineering roles has almost doubled in the last decade, from 25,000 to over 50,000. 

These facts highlight the progress that has been made in recent years, but they also show that there is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in STEM in Ireland. By continuing to promote STEM education and career opportunities for women, Ireland can ensure that it has a diverse and talented workforce in the years to come. 

Overall, despite the challenges, women in Ireland are making significant progress in STEM fields. The future of STEM in Ireland is bright, and it is clear that women will play a leading role in its success. At HERO Recruitment, we are committed to promoting gender diversity in STEM. As a female-owned and operated recruitment agency, and a multi-award winner Recruitment agency in Science, Engineering and Pharma, we proudly offer various roles in STEM fields for women. Explore exciting opportunities with us and contribute to the diverse landscape of STEM. Join us in shaping the future of innovation! 

Search Jobs

Match my CV

We take the hard work out of finding you a new job. Simply upload your CV (or call us) and we’ll get hunting for you!