Do you want to “try before you apply”? Go on a Headstart course and find out what being a STEM undergraduate is really like before you fill in your UCAS form

Monday, January 12, 2015 12:00 AM

Girls – Is a STEM career right for you?

9% of Professional, Chartered Engineers are women and 17% of STEM professors are female. 

Does this mean that women shouldn’t be engineers and scientists? NO NOT AT ALL – what it does mean is that there are great opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths for all young people and especially young women.

Professor Ann Dowling, head of the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University and President of the Royal Academy of Engineering recently highlighted with incredulity that only 17% of engineering students in the UK are women, yet it has been proved many times that companies with a diverse workforce – at all levels – are better businesses.  


We need to engage more female pupils at school with the excitement and benefits of STEM careers - not just because it is the right thing to do, but because if the proportion of girls entering STEM careers were increased to the same level as that of boys, UK industry's STEM skills gap would be significantly reduced.


So what can YOU do?


1) From an early age far too many girls are still told that STEM subjects are masculine subjects that they won't enjoy, and lead to careers which aren't suitable for women.  DON’T BELIEVE IT!


2) The opportunities for young people at school, and particularly girls, to get an insight into a STEM career can be limited.  TAKE ANY CHANCE YOU CAN TO FIND OUT MORE!


3) Role models are important in inspiring young people into careers. If you don't have know any scientists and engineers in real life you will be stuck with popular stereotypes (scientists are geeks with glasses and mad hair, engineers have dirty hands and faces and work on cars), which is not encouraging.  LOOK OUT FOR PEOPLE TO INSPIRE YOU. 


The education charity EDT can help you find out if STEM could be right for you:


In recent years EDT has reinforced its focus on encouraging women into STEM professions, led by Estelle Rowe MBE, an acknowledged expert in the subject.


INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY -   EDT works with schools to deliver the "STEM Family Challenge" which is designed to encourage parent involvement in STEM choices and to inform and highlight to them the benefits of STEM careers. This is particularly important for girls where parental acknowledgement and enthusiasm about STEM career opportunities give important encouragement.


Secondly, we now run INSPIRE - a female only programme with a mix of hands-on STEM activities and study skills, held at universities, for girls wanting to embark on technical careers. Similarly we run an all female version of Headstart for Year 12 students to “try before they apply” called Insight for girls who are thinking of studying science and engineering at University.


Finally 'Routes into STEM', supplements the careers advice available in school.  Year 10 pupils spend 1 day each in higher education, further education and at a company to compare apprentice and undergraduate career pathways.  While this activity is for both boys and girls it is particularly helpful in allowing girls to understand their options in science and engineering careers.


If you would like to find out more ask at school or visit

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