Illustrating career options

Discussions in this thread about the “leaky pipeline” and this thread about role models, and the reaction I had to the talk I gave about my career in Southampton, has made me realise how important it is to give girls and young women a clearer picture of all the options open to them if they study STEM. STEM subjects are often seen as only suitable for people who then want to go into academia and become a PhD, then lecturer and professor. But that’s not the case at all – there are plenty of lucrative, fascinating career options for women with a STEM education.

I think it would be beneficial to show kids, and especially girls, before they choose their GCSEs, that study STEM subjects opens a huge number of doors for you, whether or not you go on to university. That STEM subjects give you fantastic skills that are very transferrable, and that employers appreciate. And that, more than anything, studying a STEM subject gives you choice.

Question is, how best to do that? Perhaps a set of infographics? What skills you learn studying STEM, and where they’re useful? Or should we do some career trajectories of real women? Or is there a better way?

I think stories from real women (not leaders in their field or anything, just normal women that people can relate to) would be a great way to enthuse girls. And definitely for older people who are starting to think about their careers an idea of the skillset they’ll get from STEM. I kept being told that as a physics student (back when I was a physics student) I could have a good career in finance because I was numerate. I think it might be worth speaking to some humanities people and see what skills they get from their subjects - I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a good cross-over and the point would be that if you’re going to uni just to get a degree then you’re no worse off doing chemistry than doing geography. Of course, there are also specialised skills that you’ll get from studying chemistry but you’ll get a different set of specialised skills studying geography but the point is that if chemistry is the thing you’re interested in, even if you want to go and work in ‘the real world’ you won’t be at a disadvantage against all the humanities people and you might have some skills that make you more appealing to prospective employers.

I do think there’s an opportunity here to do something graphical which explicitly explains the range of skills that you get from doing a STEM degree, and the jobs you can use those in.

I wonder if I need to do a survey to collect ideas for that, because one person sitting down and mapping it out would firstly miss things and secondly go crazy. The question is then how I go from a google spreadsheet to a graphical representation of the information.

I think you could get an extraordinary amount of the data like that from HESA and HECSU. [edit to add [LINK]1] I’ve seen data showing that STEM grads go in to huge varieties of careers, and anecdotally I have former students who are working in fundraising, market research, IT, energy companies, major infrasctructure construction companies… and they are all biology graduates. Go figure.

I saw a projection somewhere (I can try and dig out the link) that tech/digital/IT skills are going to be in severe short supply in UK plc, and I think that is already being reflected in the number of our students - notably those who pick up some coding skill in R or in Python - are getting tech and/or data rich jobs in places not noted for a large number of bioscience graduates.

This is a trend for ALL employment, not just for women - this is surely an opportunity to say to women, “look - there will be a time in the not too distant future when employers will not have the luxury of giving a shit whether you are female or not. if you find this remotely interesting, give it a shot…!” And of course the women with the messy portfolio careers, will be the role models.

On another note - I did just watch your presentation Suw, and it was really interesting. You were saying a lot of things that I say to prospective students, especially that boundaries are the best and most exciting places (this is so true for finding novel scientific ideas…), and also the importance of illustrating other people’s messy careers. We actually run a regular coffee and careers sessions for grad students where staff in and out of the department talk about exactly these things. Like you, I heard nothing about careers when I was a student. There wasn’t any careers in academia then, not like we understand them now (I was at uni before the 1990s expansion, and it was a very different place). But I sincerely hope that our students at least are under fewer illusions. Oddly, it seems that we put a lot of students OFF pursuing academic careers, and even more interestingly, we put off more female than male students… But that’s a discussion for another place. Or is it?

Oooh data! Thanks for that. I wonder if Ken might be able to help out with further info and ideas? I shall PM him. :smiley:

Also, if anyone has a link to research about future demand for tech (or STEM) skills then that would be interesting. I definitely think there should be a careers portion to this work.

Thanks for your comments on my talk! Very interesting that frank talks about academic careers puts people off… and to be honest, probably a good thing in some ways. There are more grads than opportunities and I think academia doesn’t suit everyone. I knew/know a lot of people who had terrible times trying to complete their PhDs, for example. One guy was 2 years in when he found out that another team that he had no knowledge of had just answered his research question, blowing his entire PhD out of the water. Poor bloke.

Very interesting, though, that it puts off more women than men - and I think that is definitely something we can discuss on this forum somewhere, if not in this thread! My assumption would be that women feel an academic career puts too many demands on them - is this anywhere near true?

Oh, also relevant, this link from Ken from a previous thread:

Right, so, I went through that What Do Graduates Do? report from HECSU, and it’s full of awesome information. I identified 15 STEM (-ish – I included some not-quite-STEM degree areas because they require some STEM A-Levels and can result in STEM careers) and collated the example areas of further study and example careers. And that has resulted in probably more text than I can fit onto a poster.

My dilemma is that I don’t want to eliminate the information, because that then undermines the message that studying STEM subjects opens the door to a rich choice of careers, but I also know that no one is going to read a huge chunk of 9 pt text on a poster. And this has to be ultimately an analogue resource, such as a poster, because it has to reach kids who are not going to go online and look up websites for the info.

What I want to achieve is a design that, at a glance, makes kids go “Wow, I can do all these really cool things if I do STEM!”

So feeling a bit stuck right now! Anyway, here’s the current data, arranged to reduce vertical height, rather than out of any sense of design aesthetic. (Note, click on it so that it pops up in an overlay, then click on it again to get the full size readable version. Then weep.)

I was hoping to add some data in about which GCSEs lead to which A-Levels too… so that we have a sort of ‘careers tree’, but I’m wondering if that’s even advisable/possible now!

I’ve had a little look and I’m wondering if there may be a more concise was of displaying the data. There seem to be some areas where there’s a very specific hierarchy but for a lot of things it’s not the specific subject so much as the general skills of numeracy, critical analysis and do on that opens up career paths. For example, financial positions are mentioned in a fair few fields. I’m wondering if something like a food web or a spidergram (is that the right word - balloons with lines joining them) might be better. I can’t really do a visual example at the moment as I’m on my iPad but it would be grouping things a bit more and then having examples radiating off. I’m probably not making sense but if it sounds like something you want to explore more but have no idea what I’m on about, let me know and I’ll get something mocked up tomorrow.

Hm, yes, I see what you mean. I will have another look and a think! But do feel free to fiddle about with it if you want.

The raw data is:

Further study
PhD Microbiology
PhD Toxicology
MSc International business MSc Marine science
MA Media and PR
MA Wildlife filmmaking
PGCE Secondary education
PGDE Primary education
BVSc Veterinary science
Dipl Nursing


Healthcare technical officer – NHS
Community engagement officer – a charity
Trainee accountant – an accountancy firm
Financial analyst – DLA Piper
IT trainer – a training company
Finance executive – Tesco
Production runner – a major broadcaster
Museum curator – a museum
Climbing instructor – a charity
Microbiology technician – a research lab
Biodiversity officer – a wildlife trust
Research assistant – a wildlife centre
Researcher – a conservation organisation
Ranger – a charity
Healthcare assistant – a care home
Aquarist – a sea life centre
Zookeeper – a leisure attraction
Animal rehabilitator – a pet spa
Landscape gardener – self-employed

DPhil Organic chemistry
PhD Earth and ocean science
PhD Sustainable chemical technologies
PhD Nanoscience
MSc Environmental technology
PGCE Secondary education
BM Medicine
Graduate Diploma in Law

Cardiographer – NHS
Physical chemist – Unilever
Research scientist – a food manufacturer
Formulations chemist – a paint company
Production technologist – an oil producer
Technologist – a car manufacturer
IT consultant – Microsoft
Trainee auditor – Ernst and Young
Accountant – KPMG
Events coordinator – hotel
Energy analyst – an energy supplier
Safety analyst – an industry group
Rowing coach – a school
Healthcare assistant – NHS
Parliamentary assistant – the Government
Data administrator – a music company
Administrator – Mercedes Benz
Bookseller – a book store
Canvasser – a district council

Physical and Geographical Sciences
MSc Sustainable aviation
MSc Climate change
MSc Environmental management
MSc Volcanology
MSc Town planning
MSc Coastal management
MSc Urban design
MA TV journalism
PGCE Secondary education
Graduate Diploma in Law

Manager – a wine retailer
Manager – a builders merchants
Logging geologist – an oil field service
Geophysicist – a survey company
Web systems developer – a research firm
Underwriter – an insurance company
Insurance broker – an energy company
Accountant – PricewaterhouseCoopers
Business risk analyst – Deloitte
Analyst – a financial services firm
Market researcher – automobile company
Assistant curator – a museum
GIS support analyst – a survey company
Cycling development officer – a training firm
Lab technician – a geotechnical company
Parliamentary researcher – the Government
Nanny – self-employed
Learning support assistant – primary school
Judges clerk – Ministry of Justice
Fundraising intern – a wildlife trust

PhD Nanotechnology
PhD Advanced composites
MSc Physics
MSc Nuclear reactors
PGCE Secondary education
Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants qualification

Marketing manager – a marketing company
Manager – a bank
Teacher – a FE college
Teacher – a private school
Development physicist – oil services company
Reactor physicist – a car manufacturer
Project engineer – a helicopter company
Broadcast engineer – a major broadcaster
Security analyst – an IT company
Transport consultant – a construction service
Accountant – PricewaterhouseCoopers
Tax associate – PricewaterhouseCoopers
Musician – self-employed
Patent attorney – a patent company
Analyst – a food manufacturer
Payroll assistant – a retailer
Administrator – a health organisation

Sports Science
MSc Psychology
MSc Human resources
MSc Sport and exercise nutrition
MSc Sports studies
MSc Sports biomechanics
MSc Sports performance

Pub manager – a restaurant chain
Sports counsellor – self-employed
Trainee physiotherapist – NHS
Supply PE teacher – a teaching agency
Lecturer – a FE college
Physiologist – NHS
Financial analyst – a financial service company
Account executive – Dell
Estate agent – an estate agency
Sales executive – Diageo
Sports officer – a borough council
Sports coach – a private gym
Match analyst – a football club
Personal trainer – self-employed
Assistant physiotherapist – NHS
Therapy assistant – NHS
Teaching assistant – a primary school
Care assistant – NHS
Administrator – a cricket club
Personal assistant – a county council
Medical records clerk – NHS
Shop assistant – Nike

PhD in Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
DPhil in Computer science
MSc Quantitative finance and financial engineering
MSc Statistics
MSc Astronautics and space engineering
MSc Financial mathematics
MSc Actuarial science
MRes Mathematics
PGCE Secondary mathematics
Chartered Financial Analyst qualification

Project manager – a transport company
Bio-contract officer – NHS
Maths teacher – a grammar school
Lecturer – an overseas university
Community development officer – a university
Web designer – a sports website
IT engineer – IT solutions company
Investment reviewer – a bank
Pricing analyst – Allianz Insurance
Consulting analyst – Deloitte
Actuarial analyst – KPMG
Gold trader – international gold trader
Radio producer – a major broadcaster
Technical consultant – IBM
Health care assistant – NHS
Teaching assistant – a school
Finance assistant – an energy consultancy

Computer Science & IT
PhD Computer graphics
PhD in Robotics
MSc Information security
MSc Database systems
MSc Advanced computer science
MSc Management
MA Consumer behaviour
PGCE Secondary computer science
BA Philosophy
Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)

Asylum worker – the Government
IT technician – Rolls Royce
Software development engineer – Amazon
Technical analyst – Goldman Sachs
Graduate software developer – BT
Computer scientist – Microsoft
Software engineer – Citi Bank
Trainee content web developer – a travel agent
Business analyst – a management consultancy
Fraud analyst – payment processing company
Illustrator – an Illustration firm
Musician – freelance
Technical tester – an energy solutions firm
Researcher – a university
Research assistant – a university

MSc Computer science
MSc Quantity surveying
MSc Sports coaching
MA History of art
PGCE in Design technology
PGCE Primary education

Office manager – a retailer
Site manager – a construction company
Construction project manager
Architectural technologist
Building services engineer
Project engineer – Balfour Beatty
Quantity surveyor – BT
Architectural assistant – self-employed
Junior architect
Architectural technician
Loan adviser – a finance company
Bicycle restorer – self-employed
Garden designer – self-employed

Civil Engineering
MEng Civil engineering
MSc Urban water and environmental management
MSc Timber engineering
MSc Earthquake engineering
MSc Petroleum engineering
MSc Accounting and finance
PGCE Mathematics

Graduate engineer
Site engineer
Services engineer
Underwater engineering diver
Project engineer – a construction firm
Pipeline engineer – an oil company
Subsea engineer – an offshore company
Financial analyst – a finance company
Analyst – Accenture
Trainee Chartered accountant
Marketing effectiveness analyst – a bank
Procurement officer – NHS
Policy adviser – the government
Assistant structural engineer – Atkins
Cricket coach – a local cricket club
Work coordinator – oil field services
Teaching assistant – a secondary school
IT administrator – a bank
Administrator – the Government
Train driver - a transport company

Electrical & Electronic Engineering
PhD Electronic engineering
PhD Power electronics
MSc Engineering
MSc Wireless networks
PGCE Secondary mathematics

Design engineer – an IT company
Engineer – a car manufacturer
Engineer – air and gas equipment supplier
Graduate engineer
Physics teacher – a private school
Software developer
Software engineer
Investment analyst
Business analyst – a power company
Trainee internal sales engineer
Designer – freelance
Administrator – a gas supplier

Mechanical Engineering
PhD Mechanical engineering
MSc Mechanical engineering
MSc Subsea engineering
MSc Brewing and distilling
MSc Aerospace systems
MSc Renewable systems
MSc Innovation & technology management

Marketing and talent acquisition manager
Engineer – Ministry of defence
Product engineer
Graduate mechanical engineer – Atkins
Nuclear graduate mechanical engineer
Proposal engineer – subsea engineering
Field engineer – Schlumberger
Integrity engineer – engineering company
Subsea pipeline engineer – energy company
Charity fundraiser
Advertising executive
Fiscal officer – a chambers
IT support engineer
Technical specialist – an IT company
Soccer coach – a private school
Sound engineer – self-employed

MPhil Economics
MSc Economics
MSc Economic policy
MSc Development economics
MSc Real estate finance
Masters of Business Administration
PGCE Secondary mathematics
ACA Accountancy qualification
Chartered Financial Analysis qualification

Strategic vendor manager – an online retailer
Finance manager – the Government
Teacher – a secondary school
Data analyst – IT service provider
Analyst – a financial advice company
ESG analyst – stock exchange group
Assistant economist – the Government
Investment banker – Goldman Sachs
Associate economist – a bank
Supply chain analyst
Digital assistant – a record label
Researcher – a research institute
Research analyst – financial services
Audit assistant – KPMG
Diving instructor

MSc Environmental management
MSc Global security
MSc Applied meteorology
MSc City planning and real estate development
Masters of Business Administration
PGDE Secondary education
PGDip Coastal system management

Area manager – Aldi
Teacher – a secondary school
Warm homes officer – a city council
Customer support officer – public sector
Recruiter – a recruitment specialist
CAD Sales adviser – a retailer
Trade marketer – a national newspaper
Food security volunteer – a charity

PhD Medical research
MSc Health psychology
MSc Organisational psychology
MSc Global mental health
MSc Neuroimaging
MRes Brain sciences
PGCE Secondary science

Business development manager
Occupational therapist – self-employed
Mental health worker – NHS
Education officer – a charity
Support worker – a mental health trust
Substance misuse recovery worker – a charity
Business support – professional body
Social media officer – a design consultancy
Marketing executive – a training company
Research assistant – a university
Art therapy assistant – a city council
Care outreach assistant – a charity
Learning support assistant – a school

Finance & Accountancy
MSc Global development
MSc Economic and financial analysis
MA Chinese studies
Masters of Business Administration
PGCE Business education
Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants qualification
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants qualification

Support worker – social care service
Trainee accountant – a county council
Profit recovery auditor – an auditing firm
Trainee accountant
Commercial PPI consultant – Lloyds TSB
Finance graduate – a multinational bank
Case manager – a credit card company
Supply chain analyst – a wine distributor
Water sports instructor – a leisure company
Teaching assistant – a secondary school
Marketing and sales assistant – a hotel

Ooh I know exactly the kind of graphic you need for this. You need a bi partite graph.

All the degrees are on the top and all the jobs on the bottom. Join each pair that connects. You’ll visualise very quickly that all degrees in STEM can lead to finance and bioscience is more likely to end up in health and related, all stem connects to teaching, and so on.

Sound feasible? If so, I can sketch it out - should be trivial in ppt

Ooh that does sound good. Could we go tripartite and add A-Levels in?

Bit more complex but don’t see why not

Get kenmck on this - he’s got all the data

I’ll drop him a line.