Amiosec support a ‘Girls into STEM’ event for Y9 girls at Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form Centre
14th November, 2019
Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form Centre
At Amiosec, we care about the future of engineering, especially when it comes to inspiring the next generation of engineers and improving gender diversity across the profession.
Britain has an acute shortage of engineers. There are currently 6.1 million engineering jobs in the UK and a further 1.8 million new engineers and technicians are needed by 2025. Women currently make up just 12.3% of all engineers in the UK and so attracting females to the UK engineering sector and retaining them is vital for economic growth and financial stability.
Award winning chartered electrical engineer Kerrine Bryan claims “We’re losing potential engineers at every stage of life, and it starts from a young age because bias and misconceptions in media and toys often implant ideas into children’s minds that engineering is for men and involves getting your hands dirty and fixing things” (The Guardian, 2019).
Interestingly, girls outperform boys in engineering fields of study. In all STEM A-levels, except chemistry, more girls obtain A*- C grades than boys, a pattern which continues at degree level. However, there is a low uptake by girls of STEM subjects. For example, of all girls that take GCSEs just 5% choose computer science, a figure which drops to less than 1% for A-level computing. At degree level, just 1% of women choose computer science (NCSC, 2019).
According to Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), among girls aged 11-14, almost half (46.4%) would consider a career in engineering, compared with 70.3% of boys, yet this drops to 25.4% of girls aged 16-18, compared with 51.9% of boys. Inspiring females from a young age to pursue a career in engineering is therefore vital to recruiting more females to the industry.
Amiosec is passionate about gender diversity in the workplace and finding ways of sparking the interest of young people in engineering and technology. Reaching out to local schools is a key part of this and so we relished the opportunity to attend a “Girls into STEM” event for Y9 students at Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form Centre. Run by the STEM Ambassadors network, this is a key stage to interact with the students as it is just before they choose their GCSE subjects.
One of our female software engineers attended the event and gave a short presentation on her role and how she got into the industry. She talked about how she enjoyed maths, physics and technological studies at school, and how it was her technology teacher that inspired her to do a joint degree in computing and electronic engineering at university. She then discussed what interesting projects she had worked on as part of her career to date, and detailed what her daily life was like in the role of a software engineer – including the good and bad. She was joined by three other STEM Ambassadors who gave a similar presentation on their roles within STEM.
After the presentations, the STEM Ambassadors worked with the students to answer a quiz on the types of STEM careers they might be suited to based on their interests and personal qualities. They were also available to answer any questions the students might have for them about their jobs. The “Girls into STEM” workshop ran twice, so that all girls in Y9 had the opportunity to learn more about working in a STEM career. Overall it was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to interact with the local community, hopefully inspiring the next generation of engineers.