STEM is for Girls – People like me

Julie Brown

Slough, UK, Slough | February 1st, 2017

I want to spread the word about a really great initiative from WISE ( Women In Science and Engineering)  which was launched today at CE Technologies in Slough.  Working through volunteers around the country People Like me focuses on helping girls aged 11-14 realise that the aptitude and skills they have are needed for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), careers that girls in particular do not always believe they are suited too.

Launch of People like me goes digital, WISE

Launch of People like me goes digital, WISE

The scale of the problem was highlighted by Helen Wollaston, WISE CEO, who pointed out that only 7% of girls  go onto STEM careers after level 4, compared to 24% of boys*  Jacqueline do Rojas, managing director of UKI, Sage and President, techUK pointed out that often the ‘T’ in STEM got ignored, but in fact ‘every business has a digital heartbeat’ ( I really liked that!) and that Tech jobs are growing at a rate of 10x more than any other sector.

STEM education pipeline

The message was clear, for our businesses to be successful we need to make the most of our talent pool, which of course includes girls. According to Prof. Averil Macdonald we will attract girls to apply for jobs in the sector if we can help them firstly realise that they can do it and secondly that they will fit it.  This was backed up by Paul Briault from CA Technologies who reinforced that what businesses need is a culture of recognising that teams work best when they are ‘happy and diverse and play to people’s strengths’. A culture where women will feel comfortable and have the opportunity to thrive.

At Practical Action we are also aware of the importance of more girls going into STEM, to become the scientists and engineers of the future that can help solve the big global challenges ahead.  We are delighted at feedback from teachers and pupils which tells us that girls in particular love our resources as they highlight the social impact of science and technology.  See the video below which shows 90 girls from 8 schools in Birmingham taking  part in our Beat the Flood STEM challenge.  We are also partners in an EU funded project called Girls Into Global STEM (GIGS), which aims to engage more girls in STEM by getting them involved in creating and taking part in global STEM challenges and developing their digital skills in the process. We are at the beginning of the project but watch this space for more information.

If you and/or your organisation are interested in finding out more about the campaign and helping WISE reach their target of reaching 200,000 girls in the next two years please go to https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/about-us/wise-projects/people-like-me.  If you are a teacher  and want to find out how to get girls in your school involved click the same link!

* More details can be found in the report at  https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/resources/2016/11/from-classroom-to-boardroom-the-stem-pipeline

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