The number of female researchers is increasing at STC

Save favourite 17 Feb February 2017

At STC we see a reversed trend in the number of women starting PhD studies. In 2015, only 6 percent of the total amount of PhD-students at STC were women. Today, the proportion of female PhD-students are 23 percent.

For a long time it has been a challenge to attract women into to the technology industry. In the report She Figures 2015* by the European Commission it has been concluded that men are more than two times more likely than women to choose an engineering degree. To reverse the trend, many schools and universities in Sweden put extra resources in increasing the interest among young girls for technics and engineering.

According to data from SCB**, only 13 percent of students in master's programs in electronics and computer science in Sweden over the last five years are women. At STC, we can see that the interest in technologies is increasing among women. Today, 23 percent of the total amount of PhD-students are women. So compared with two years ago, when there were only 6 percent women among the PhD-students, it has increased a lot. The main reason has been increased interest from international female applicants to our PhD student positions.

Prof. Mattias O’Nils, Head of STC, think it’s a positive change that the amount of female researchers is increasing. STC has actively worked towards getting a more diverse research environment, both regarding increasing the number of woman and work for a more diverse background. This work has given STC a more open environment with over 15 nationalities and an increased number of female researchers which also gives STC potential to increase synergies between research challenges.

-        The number of female applicants to PhD student positions has increased, but to do more we need to work on a long term. That since the competence that we recruit from has a lower levels of woman (13%**) then we have achieved to recruit now. To improve more we need to work on really long term on attitudes towards technology. This involves recruiting to technology education on universities and perhaps more important to generate interest in lower grades in school, says Prof. Mattias O’Nils, Head of STC.

Prof. O’Nils continues with the importance of working with attractiveness around technologies.

-        To really make an impact, both we as a university with education in technology and the industry needs to work on the attractiveness of the area. Good examples of this is the Maker movement and different coding activities for young people, continues Prof. Mattias O’Nils, Head of STC.

One of the female researchers at STC is PhD-student Enkeleda Balliu. Enkeleda has a Master Degree in Electronic Engineering from Polytechnic of Turin, Italy. Her research at Mid Sweden University is focused in the field of Photonics, especially on developing laser systems and laser processing of different functional materials. Enkeleda think it's important that the image of the industry change towards a less male dominated field.

-        Being a woman in the technology industry hasn’t been a problem for me personally, but I am conscious that we women are a minority in this field. The image of the technology industry as a male field can sometimes be intimidating for many female students who are considering to choose this field. Fortunately this image is changing, and I truly believe that more female will approach the engineering technology world, says Enkeleda Balliu, PhD-student.

Enkeleda at SPIE Photonic West conference in San Francisco.

She also adds how important it is for women in the industry to act as role models.

-        I think it’s partly up to the women who are already involved in this field to be a good role model and to inspire new female students. We should be more open and talk about what’s fun and also what’s challenging to be a researcher. Nowadays, technology is part of our daily life. We should show that behind this technology there’s also women. Women that can enjoy the fun and challenging parts of being into the technology industry. I would really recommend women to study photonics, because it’s really interesting and gratifying, continues Enkeleda Balliu, PhD-student.

Enkeleda at the research exhibition at Science & Innovation Day 2016.


*She Figures 2015
She Figures 2015 investigates the level of progress made towards gender equality in research & innovation (R&I) in Europe. Read the report here.

** SCB – Statistics Sweden
Statistics on the number of students adopted to master's degrees in electronics and computer science. Read more here.

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