Why the cosmetics industry is the ideal vocation for women in STEM

With room for a broad range of expertise and ample opportunity to continue research while child-rearing, more women with a STEM background should consider entering the cosmetics and toiletries industry

Dr Pauline Hili

Dr Pauline Hili is the Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and founder of Nourish London.

As one of the UK’s top organic skin care experts, Dr Pauline Hili discusses how more women with a STEM background should consider entering the cosmetics and toiletries industry


Women have contributed to science and chemistry since the age of alchemy, yet are still under-represented in the upper echelons of the scientific and business world.

According to the WISE campaign's statistics for the UK labour market, women made up just 12.8% of the country's STEM workforce in 2015[1].

Although at graduate level there is a relative parity between female and male representatives, by the time we get to postdoctoral research, women are decidedly under-represented in the STEM subjects, which many companies are looking to address.

The loss of experience and expertise is a significant waste of knowledge and national investment. The benefits of keeping talented women in science are numerous. Many countries now recognise that an effective science strategy has gender balance from the classroom to the boardroom.

There is no evidence to support a gender difference in aptitude to science subjects. Girls need to be encouraged to take science and chemistry, and develop confidence in these subjects. A study revealed that the differences in the achievements of girls and boys in the sciences had very little to do with aptitude, but related to their confidence.


Why cosmetics?

The cosmetics and toiletries industry is an excellent industry for women with a STEM background. A career in the cosmetics industry can offer women . . .

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