16 DEC 2021

Only 10% of new enrolments in VET in technology, engineering and mathematics are women

  • A study finds that the percentage rises slightly, to 15%, when they have to enrol in university science courses
  • Fundación Iberdrola España, EMT and Comillas Pontifical University are developing this chair to promote the presence of women in vocational training studies related to these subjects

The Managing Director of Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid, Alfonso Sánchez, and the President of Fundación Iberdrola España, Fernando García, took part in the presentation of the main conclusions of the STEM Women Chair, which took place at the Conecta Lab at Comillas Pontifical University.

Under the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), this public-private initiative was born due to the reduced presence of women in these four subjects in the world of vocational training. This chair aims, on the one hand, to seek the causes of this situation, and on the other, to raise awareness among the educational community and the business community of the potential of women in these professional profiles.

Some of the report's findings highlight the need to attract female talent to STEM fields of study in order to reduce the current gap and balance the lower employment rate among women.

In general, STEM VET studies are chosen by few young people. This leads to the labour market subsequently not finding professionals to meet its needs. Another situation reflected in the report is that students drop out after completing an intermediate VET degree, instead of continuing their education and specialisation.

According to data held by Comillas Pontifical University, out of every 10 VET students who choose STEM studies, only one is a woman. This proportion is also low - eight out of every 100 - in those young people who choose STEM-related university degrees. Some of the reasons given to explain this situation are misinformation within families, gender bias, the sensitivity of teachers and guidance counsellors, as well as stereotypes, among others.

Studies focusing on the future needs of the labour market in Spain indicate that STEM professions likely to offer quality employability for women will grow by 14% in the coming years. Specifically, the mobility and sustainability sector is seen as a future alternative for women to obtain stable jobs with good professional projection.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the STEM Women Chair has scheduled numerous activities and initiatives aimed at students, families and guidance counsellors, such as talks, conferences and workshops in person and online. Last year, Queen Letizia received in audience the representatives of organisations behind the initiative to inquire about it.

This initiative, supported by EMT, Madrid City Council and Fundación Iberdrola España, was created to highlight the importance of vocational training in boosting the employability of women in fields where their presence is still low, such as science and mathematics.

The presentation ceremony was attended by the Vice Rector for Institutional Relations at Comillas Pontifical University, Federico de Montalvo; the Director of the STEM Women Chair, Yolanda González, and the Director of the Foundations Committee of the Iberdrola Group, Ramón Castresana.

Representing the student community were: Adriana Delgado, Extraordinary Baccalaureate Award of the Community of Madrid and of the Degree in Industrial Technologies Engineering and Business Administration and Management of Universidad de Comillas; Ana Alum, student of the double Degree in Data Engineering and Telecommunications Engineering of Carlos III University - recognised as the best STEM student in Spain; Marta Solís, student of IES Humanejos, and Leandra Serrano, student of the Higher Degree in Aeromechanical Maintenance of Turbine Engines (dual mode), represented the student body at this event.