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Collaborative effort will fuel female uptake of STEM subjects

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the term ‘STEM subjects’?

Safeera Sarjoo
15th February 2016
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Chances are it doesn’t really conjure up the image of a female dominated environment. However here at Training and Courses we want to change that. Alongside other organisations championing the inclusion of women within the STEM arena, statistics show that this industry is facing a significant problem.

According to a May 2014 study on diversity within STEM, a shocking 4% of engineering apprentices were female. Another staggering statistic from February this year revealed that despite women making 47% of the UK’s work force, only 13% of the STEM workforce is female. Only one in eight jobs requiring advanced science, technology, engineering and maths went to women, which only reinforce the argument that more needs to be done to encourage females to think about a career within these industries.

In addition to working with some incredible providers who offer courses within STEM, there are organisations like Stemettes who are working tirelessly to engage young girls and connect them with professionals through seminars, panel discussions and events up and down the UK.

Jacquelyn Guderley, Co-founder of Stemettes, believes it is a complete myth that girls are not interested or are not suited to a career in STEM. When asked why it’s so important to integrate girls within these careers she said:

‘These jobs are some of the most forward thinking and influential jobs when it comes to the world of work and the future of careers that drive society and the economy. Not to mention the added benefit of careers in STEM being particularly lucrative. The other element to highlight is that girls are actually very good at STEM careers because in many fields and industries it allows them to be creative and also employ their natural altruism, as technology is used to solve some of our biggest social problems, for example.’

It’s not just about being a scientist or a mathematician. No, STEM careers stretch far and wide, which surprised us at Training and Courses. We even found some incredibly unique careers that people can get into with a STEM background such as an ethical hacker and a 3D printing engineer.

Exposing young girls to professionals within the field is a strong starting point that undoubtedly peaks their interest and allows them to communicate questions and concerns to people who have experience under their belt.

‘We bring girls aged 5-22 into contact with female role models who are working in STEM industries. By listening to them speak about their journey into STEM on a panel, they meet the real women who work in STEM and can find many affinities and similarities. There are also chances to ask questions and network with the ladies. Then we run hackathons which develop the girls' coding skills as well as other skills that are useful in the workplace, such as project management, presenting, time management and ideating. Lastly, we run Outbox Incubator which helps young female entrepreneurs who create STEM start-ups - most of these girls are just girls with a dream when we meet them and they leave the house with a start-up and a product or service in STEM,’ Guderley explained.

There is evidence to suggest that females can be game changers if given the opportunity to shine. A 2013 ‘Diversity and SME’s’ Enterprise Research Centre White Paper revealed that women led SMEs contribute around £70bn to the economy. Meanwhile if women were to participate more in STEM employment, which could mean a potential contribution of £2bn to the UK economy according to Engineering UK.

So what needs to be done in order to encourage an uptake and keep a steady interest?

Guderley believes businesses need to invest in women more.

‘We need industry and corporations to put their money where their mouth is. Many claim, through their CSR department, that they want to encourage young women into STEM. With companies such as ours providing a viable way of doing this, there is an easy solution to contribute to the solution. We have so much demand from schools, but we need more supply from STEM companies who are willing to invite girls into their office for the day and run a STEM in a Day workshop in which the girls make a mobile app in a day. Actions speak louder than words and although there is some great action being taken by corporations and SMEs, but there is definitely room for more.’

A collaborative effort between schools and businesses will inevitably help with an uptake in STEM subjects. If females are given the belief from a young age that they can forge successful careers within these industries, whether it be through schools or events like the ones organised by Stemettes, then we are tackling a significant part of the problem.

If you are interested in a career within the STEM industries, ask about it. Contact colleges and companies who operate within the sector and find out more about their line of work. Encouraging businesses to be more inclusive of women is one thing but like any other employer, seeing a vested interest from potential employees is crucial.

 

Training and Courses are proud to list a range of courses within the STEM sector. Such variety gives both women and men the chance to really hone in on what they’re passionate about, whether they want to be a mechanical engineer or specialise in computational mathematics. Start your search today.

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