To coincide with International Women’s Day, KPMG’s Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Hilary Thomas, addresses the gender imbalance in STEM fields.
“It is clear that that there is a lack of women entering STEM careers; you only need to look at the boards of the FTSE 100 companies in these industries to see this reality. We are now starting to see more girls applying to study maths, physics and engineering at university than ever before, but they are still the minority. There is a different picture in medicine, with more women than men studying to become doctor, but this isn’t reflected at more senior levels within organisations. The majority of consultants and board members are male.
“Unfortunately there is no quick fix. This trend means there are fewer women rising to senior positions in these careers, and the sad reality is that girls and women do not have enough female role models. Addressing this issue would create a pipeline of female talent in these industries in the future.
“The other incredibly important influence in this issue is men. We need more male champions of diversity. We will not get more women in STEM fields until both men and women realise that the gender imbalance is an issue for all of us. The #heforshe campaign is a great example of a proactive male mentoring.
“We also need to recognise that gender imbalance is not just an issue for the careers and confidence of girls and women, it is an issue for businesses too. There is evidence that proves that companies with a more diverse workforce have a better financial performance, and businesses that promote based on unconscious bias rather than talent have poor retention rates.
“At KPMG, we have an initiative to recognise outstanding women working in Life Sciences at the firm, and the male global chair for Life Sciences is a fantastic ambassador.
“Across STEM industries, we are seeing more exceptional and bright women than ever before, but we all have a role to play to ensure they are supported in breaking the glass ceiling.”
As well as her role for Life Sciences at KPMG, Hilary is a member of the global Centre of Excellence in Healthcare and Life Sciences. Prior to KPMG she spent 23 years in the NHS – including as Professor of Oncology at the University of Surrey and Medical Director of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Hilary works at the interface of healthcare and life sciences for public and private sector clients – redesigning care models and pathways and helping organisations to navigate the changing way that the public interact and the implications for organisational strategy and business models. She is a past winner of the First Women in Business Services and a 2015 luminary of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association.
Helen Jackson, corporate communications, KPMG UK. Tel: 077 292 090 29
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £1.96 billion in the year ended September 2015. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 174,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.