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Posted on December 24, 2018 by staff

Women in STEM: ‘Don’t be afraid of feeling uncomfortable’

A tech recruitment specialist and diversity champion has urged women in STEM to embrace feeling uncomfortable.

Laura Le Masurier is managing director at Crucial Group, a recruitment and training services company for the ‘advanced technology’ markets including space & satellite, aerospace, cyber security, digital technology, FinTech and Blockchain.

The Brighton and London-based firm also operates a state-of-the-art, lab-based training facility where it can train – or ‘upskill’ – up to 20 people at a time.

Le Masurier has been in recruitment for over a decade and now specialises in filling roles in the space and satellite industries.

“I’ve been working in a male-dominated arena for more than seven years and let’s just say I’ve had some quite ‘amazing’ comments,” she said.

“People have said things like ‘you realise you’re in your position because you’re female?’ or ‘You’ve got a better chance of success because you’re a woman’.

“I’ve also been the only female in the room and technical or financial questions were always directed at my male colleagues, because they just assume that I’m there to take the minutes.”

Le Masurier admits the experience can be intimidating at first but is calling on woman to “find their voice” and “be themselves”.

“Don’t be afraid to feel uncomfortable,” she said. “I never grow or develop unless I’m uncomfortable and I make changes.

“It sounds weird but sometimes I think about what I can do to make myself feel uncomfortable and that’s how I get myself to the next stage.

“Never be afraid to find your voice and to make mistakes and feel silly. You don’t need to dress or behave in any certain way. You need to be yourself and you need to do it confidently.”

Britain has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, according to the Women’s Engineering Society. Last year, only 15 per cent of engineering undergraduates were women, which formed 11 per cent of engineers in work.

However, 2017 saw a one percentage point increase in girls studying STEM subjects at A-level, from 34 per cent to 35 per cent.

Le Masurier said she’s noticed a positive shift over her seven years in the space & satellite sector – but stressed there’s still an “absolutely whopping gap” to be filled and a lot more work to be done.

“The shortlists are still only 20 per cent female but when I started it was only 10 per cent,” she said. “It’s nice to see it shifting but it is shifting slowly.

“What’s really good is that there are some really awesome people championing the cause.”

Le Masurier believes the onus is on schools and recruiters like Crucial Group to connect with students at a young age and showcase the “sexier” side of tech.

“Disruptive technology is opening many more doors for STEM students,” she said. “What we need to be better at is the education from an early age.

“A big onus is on education and it’s on companies like outs to get out there and talk to students about the opportunities.”