Chief encounters: We need more women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Web yaqoob talat

Talat Yaqoob is the director of Equate Scotland – for women in science, engineering and technology

Paul Cardwell's photo

6th May 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

What does your organisation do?
Equate Scotland works with employers, educators and policy makers to encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to support and progress women who are working in STEM. We work with the industry to make it more women friendly and develop better equality practices.

How long have you been in your role and why did you apply for it?
I have only been in this role for four months! I applied because I had admired the work of Equate for many years and have always worked in equalities, particularly on women’s social justice, so this was a perfect fit!

What will happen if we don’t get more women involved in STEM roles?
The number of women in engineering is as low as 8% and in construction, as low as 1%. Right now, we are missing out on the innovation and ambitions of half the population and for STEM to advance, we need diversity around the table. The jobs of the future and the developing industries are all in STEM, if we don’t tackle this occupational segregation, we will be locking women out of the jobs of the future and creating even deeper inequality.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work?
Put the radiator on…*brr*

The jobs of the future and the developing industries are all in STEM, if we don’t tackle this occupational segregation, we will be locking women out of the jobs of the future and creating even deeper inequality

Is lunch a five minute sandwich at your desk or do you find time for yourself?
I should know better than this, but it’s a five minute sandwich at my desk while I catch up on the headlines of the day. I’m working on making it healthier!

What makes a perfect day at work?
I’m really fortunate to work with such a fantastic team, so most days are great! But a perfect day would be a Monday when we have a team meeting and someone has done some home baking! A day where I can manage to get my inbox to zero is also pretty perfect…

What makes a perfect weekend?
When your diary is full of meetings and deadlines during the week, the most perfect weekend is having nothing planned other than a long lunch with friends.

What is the worst job you have had?
This is tough, even the bad jobs give you life lessons or at least teach you what not to do! But I did work in a grocers at the weekend while in my first few years at university – that meant a 5am start on a Sunday!

What are you working on at the moment?
We have just launched our survey asking women, girls, employers and educators what they think STEM in Scotland should look like in 10 years. I’m working on getting a high response to that and developing policy recommendations to go with it. We’re also planning anniversary events as Equate is celebrating turning 10 this year!

What turns you into the office grump?
Not much really – although when you’re on a mailing list of hundreds and everyone decides to “reply all” and fill your inbox, that may just tip me over the edge.

What’s your favourite film?
That has to be 10 Things I Hate About You – I spent most of my teenage years trying to be as much like Kat, the feminist protagonist, as possible (I am not even slightly embarrassed at this, by the way).

Is this a step on the ladder to success or your final destination?
I don’t know yet! I feel very fortunate as I got this job at a reasonably young age, so I couldn’t tell you where I will be five years from now. The most important thing to me, is that whether it is in this role or another, I want to be working towards creating a fairer society.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Come on now, both choices are men?! Let’s try Mae Jemison or Maya Angelou instead.