News – GB – IWD2021 Q&A: Shifting the Perception of Women in STEM


On International Women’s Day (IWD2021), Elizabeth Swan, patent attorney in the Life Sciences and Chemistry group at Withers & Rogers, shares her with insight into the future of women in STEM

Women have so much to offer in all walks of life including STEM With half the world’s population being female, it is important that women play an active role in innovation and design, which has not been the case in the past, which has led to the fact that many things were designed by men, predominantly for men, and therefore did not work optimally for women.These even include medication and essential safety equipment such as seat belts. Involving women in STEM careers will help fill these gaps and promote gender equality

It is important to reach girls at a young age The stereotypes that boys become engineers and professors and girls become teachers and supervisors are still there. Of course, there are no career choices that are superior to others, but girls and boys shouldn’t feel that certain career paths are not open to them just because of their gender

Exposing girls to female STEM role models is a great way to show them that they too can pursue careers in science or technology. Recent events have shown that science can have a huge impact on the world, and that women already do The COVID crisis in particular has made the role of science in society more visible than ever before

A perfect example is Professor Sarah Gilbert, a key figure behind the hugely successful Oxford / Astra Zeneca vaccine and a shining example for future STEM students, as young people should be encouraged to explore their interests and skills and develop their own professional Finding direction instead of being steered towards the norm

For those in the intellectual property industry like me, diversity organizations like IP Inclusive play an important role in demonstrating the range of STEM careers that are open to young people regardless of gender, if you know there’s one out there Support network, you can eliminate any worries a person might have about feeling alone or outnumbered

Physical barriers have been removed, but a certain perception remains that is difficult to break down. Even now, only 35 percent of STEM students in higher education are women, and only 19 percent are engineering or computer science

It is clear that there is still a long way to go to equal representation, even if the situation has improved. Perception is the real obstacle for women entering the world of STEM History tells us that this is not the place for us. The more role models emerge, the easier it becomes for women to dispel doubts – consciously or unconsciously – about choosing a STEM career

I became interested in science at a young age and was fortunate to have the support in school and at home to feel safe studying chemistry at university, I also feel very fortunate as a patent attorney im I have been trained in the IP profession and do not believe that I have been discriminated against at work based on my gender, but it is clear that the underrepresentation of women in the IP industry is still a problem, especially at high levels. p>

I’ve also noticed that women who enter the world of intellectual property, like me, are more likely to focus on protecting innovations in life sciences and chemistry.In contrast, patent attorneys who focus on engineering are mostly men may be because engineering is viewed as a more “physical” field – more evidence of stereotyping. Still, I’m proud to say that we have a number of female apprentices in Withers’ Advanced Engineering Group at & Rogers

STEM Can Lead to Many Different Careers For example, it doesn’t occur to people to become a patent attorney when they think of a STEM career, but scientific knowledge and understanding is an important part of the job and I apply it every day when I advise clients on how to protect their innovations

Science and technology can also do incredible things in areas like public health or climate change, making it a rewarding and attractive career path for many young people

Given that science is so important right now, I hope more young women find the opportunity to make a difference in the world and take the plunge into a STEM career

Do it! In addition to being a diverse and fascinating area of ​​work, STEM is essential for many areas of life, from ending a global pandemic to finding solutions to climate change, and don’t be afraid to find a path that suits your interests In addition to starting a great career, you can inspire others to follow in your footsteps and make a positive difference in the world

Elizabeth Swan, patent attorney in the Life Science and Chemistry group of European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers

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News – GB – IWD2021 Q&A: Shifting perceptions of women in STEM