One of the country’s largest independent safety and risk consultancies – with offices across the UK- is working hard to buck the trend of low female entrants into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries with a commitment that means the business now boasts – what it believes is – one of the highest ratio of female to male STEM graduates in the industry.
CRA was founded in 2000 and specialises in managing risk across safety critical industries including nuclear, oil and gas, defence, power, process and transport. For CEO Jasbir Sidhu, the business prides itself on the fact that its first course of action, from start-up, was to look at how it could actively encourage more women to choose safety and risk management as a career.
This has been combined with actively promoting the uptake of STEM subjects to undergraduates through university partnerships and internships with Imperial College London and Manchester University, with other partnerships currently in development. The provision of resources and training that has enabled staff to quickly and effectively progress through the business and the implementation of changes in the workplace providing greater flexibility for all staff have also contributed to the number of STEM employees joining the business.
And the push across all these areas seems to have paid off with 20% of the business headcount filled with female STEM employees.
Speaking about these values, Jasbir said: “The most recent set of figures show that only 13% of people employed in STEM occupations across the UK are women and, whilst this has started to somewhat creep up over the last few years, it’s nowhere near where it should be”.¹
“As a business we have worked very hard – right from our inception – to make sure we work with universities to create a pipeline to the workplace for more STEM graduates. Continuing to partner with universities and colleges across the country is vital to us in making sure we continue to support bursary, intern and work opportunities for more STEM graduates.”
Just two of the recent STEM graduates to join the CRA team are Sophie Bold and Dr Eleanor Ramsden who – between them – hold two degrees, two masters and a PhD – gained at Warwick, Imperial College London, York and Sheffield universities.
Speaking about her appointment, Sophie said: “Working in this industry is challenging and there’s a lot to learn in some very complex industries, but I love that. I love the idea of working in an industry that is growing and across safety critical sectors where risk and safety management are a pre-requisite.“
Sophie has also recently been involved in a ‘Physics at Work’ day ran by The Institute of Physics for year 8 students at a London based girls school. This involved running workshops for the students in order to open their minds to STEM subjects and the types of careers that are available in physics and engineering.
“We need to make science and engineering exciting, show how both these disciplines fit into everyday life and how, by taking these subjects, you can become part of an exciting industry that is growing rapidly and where career opportunities really are limitless”, continued Sophie. CRA has offices across the UK located in Newcastle, Warrington, Surrey, London and Gloucester.