On Tuesday 10 November, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) launched its new inquiry into Equity in the UK STEM workforce. The APPG is run by its Secretariat, the British Science Association.

The inquiry will examine how the Government and organisations employing STEM workers are helping to create a diverse and inclusive environment. This inquiry will evolve the argument from problems in education and the talent pipeline – which was the focus of the inquiry in Equity in STEM education – to examine the reality of the working world. 

An online event featuring Chi Onwurah MP (Chair, APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM) and an expert panel launched the inquiry. As part the event, the APPG has published a Data Analysis Brief on the diversity and representation in the UK’s STEM (including health) workforce as it stood in 2019. The key findings include:

  • Out of a workforce of 32.8 million people, 9 million (18%) worked in STEM occupations.
  • The STEM workforce has a lower share of female workers (27% vs. 52%) and disabled people (11% vs. 14%) than the rest of the workforce.
  • The share of ethnic minority workers in STEM is on a par with the rest of the economy, as a result of a workers with Indian ethnicity being more likely to work in STEM than elsewhere. People of other ethnic minorities tend to be under-represented in STEM.
  • Disabled people of all ethnicities are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. The gap in representation between STEM workers and others, is larger for disabled women than disabled men. While a majority of non-STEM disabled workers are female (59%), only one-third (33%) of STEM disabled workers are female.
  • 65% of the STEM workforce are White men.
  • Proportionally, White women are less likely to be STEM workers than ethnic minority women: 10% of White female workers are in STEM, compared to 13% of ethnic minority female workers.
  • There is little difference in the gender balance of the STEM workforce when the youngest age group (16-29), within which 29% of STEM workers are female, is compared to those aged 30-49 in STEM, a group which is 28% female.

Chi Onwurah MP, Chair of the APPG and a former electrical engineer commented:

“I am disappointed that the UK – as a country with a STEM skills gap – is still not tapping into the talent of those from traditionally under-represented groups who could work in STEM. Diversity is not an optional add-on, it is an economic imperative. Without it, innovation is stifled and valuable talent is excluded from the workforce.

“Before becoming a Member of Parliament, I was an electrical engineer. I was often the only Black person in the room, the only woman, the only working-class person and the only Northerner. Being different in any profession or job is tiring. In the STEM workforce today, there are many barriers that people from under-represented groups are facing on a daily basis.

“As we open our call for evidence today, I urge you to share it with your colleagues, friends and networks. The APPG wants to hear from people and groups that do not normally engage with Parliamentary enquiries, as well as organisations and individuals that are driving change within the sector.”

Call for evidence

The APPG is inviting individuals and organisations to respond to its Call for Evidence that closes on Friday 29 January 2021 at 17.00.

To find out more or submit evidence, please see: APPG website