Empowering all Women, in Space and on Earth

New report: Women in the UK Space Sector

The first report on women in the UK space sector was published recently by the Space Skills Alliance and the Space Growth Partnership‚Äč’s Space Skills Advisory Panel to coincide with World Space Week, which this year had a theme of ‚ÄėWomen in Space‚Äô. It can be accessed here: spaceskills.org/women-report.

The survey of more than 1500 people across industry, academia, government, military, and non-profit organisations understands, for the first time, the experiences of women working in the UK space sector. This is the third in a series of reports analysing the results of the 2020 Space Census. It presents a deep dive into the demographics and experiences of women in the UK space workforce.

Kathie Bowden, Skills Lead at the UK Space Agency and Skills Champion on the Space Skills Advisory Panel, said:

The recent launch of the Government’s National Space Strategy proves there is a firm commitment to grow the UK’s successful space sector, which is already worth £16.4 billion a year to the UK economy and employs more than 45,000 people.

But, as this report shows, there is a great deal of work to do, not just to encourage more women into the sector, but to make sure they are fairly rewarded once they join. A diverse workforce will be vital to reach the goals set out in the strategy and put the UK at the forefront of the global space sector.

Heidi Thiemann, Director of the Space Skills Alliance, said:

This is our first proper insight into the experiences of women working in the UK space sector. That fewer than half of all women feel welcome and more than 40% have experienced discrimination is incredibly disappointing, and shows that our sector must improve if it is to offer fantastic careers to all. I hope that this data can help the sector take collective action to become a more welcoming place for everyone to work.

Key findings:

Demographics

    • Women make up 29% of the space workforce¬†and they are¬†younger on average than men.
    • There is¬†more ethnic diversity among women¬†in space than among men (14% of women vs 9% of men), primarily driven by people of Asian descent (9% vs 5%), and women are¬†more likely to be from outside the UK¬†(23% vs 16%).
    • Women are¬†more likely to identify as LGBQ+¬†(15% vs 7%) and more likely to be open about it (80% vs 72%).
    • Women are¬†more likely to have a disability¬†(11% vs 9%) but are less likely to be open about it (20% vs 9%).

Experiences of discrimination

    • Women feel less welcome in the sector than men.¬†47% of women feel ‚Äėalways welcome‚Äô compared to 79% of men.
    • 41% of women in the space sector have experienced discrimination¬†or prejudice of some form, compared to just 10% of men.
    • Young women are the most likely both to have experienced and to have witnessed discrimination.
    • One in five mothers¬†(21%)¬†has experienced pregnancy or child care related discrimination, compared to just one in a hundred fathers (1%).
    • Half¬†of women¬†(50%)¬†have witnessed an act of discrimination, compared to a quarter of men (27%).

The pay and promotion gap

  • Women consistently earn less than men, a gap that widens with age and seniority from ¬£1k in junior roles to ¬£9k in senior ones.
  • Women are¬†less likely to be promoted to senior roles¬†(20% of women vs 43% of men), even controlling for age.
  • Women in the space sector are¬†no more likely than men to be changing jobs.
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