All systems flow for Women into STEM

All systems flow for Women into STEM

International Women Into Engineering Day today has been chosen as the perfect launch date of the Women into STEM’s next phase of activity.

The project – which is led by West College Scotland in partnership with Forth Valley College and Equate Scotland – is gearing up for an exciting second phase after a full year of encouraging more female representation into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles.

Plans for the next 12 months include a Women into Stem bespoke website landing page which is set to be launched very soon!

Funded by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the dynamic initiative was quick to welcome Equate Scotland and Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) on board after launching in April 2021. Equate has been busy engaging with employers and apprentices and YES have delivered engagement activities in secondary schools in Renfrewshire and Forth Valley.

During February and March 2022, YES ran eight virtual STEM workshops (four in Renfrewshire and four in Forth Valley) for S5 and S6 pupils. The workshops were interactive, with guest speakers from STEM related sectors. The overall purpose was to raise awareness and encourage the pupils to create marketing messages to help their peer group consider STEM subjects and career pathways with confidence.

The sessions culminated in an online ‘Women into STEM’ showcase and schools involved included: Trinity High School and Paisley Grammar School in Renfrewshire and Braes High School in Forth Valley – whose fantastic and thought provoking STEM Marketing Campaigns will be available on the new landing page.

The Women into STEM Project – which will run to 31 march 2023 - has been working with Equate Scotland to work with stakeholders, employers and partners to develop awareness, access, and participation for young women to thrive within STEM activities and pathways. The initiative also hopes to develop sustainable Apprenticeship Pathways, and recruit, prepare, and progress female pupils aged between 16-24 into STEM careers - including into Engineering Modern Apprenticeships - across the West of Scotland and the Forth Valley area.

Working alongside employers such as Howdens, Scotrail, Diodes, Alexander Dennis Ltd, Ineos, and Petrofac, Women in STEM has been looking to understand and challenge stereotypes and develop the early years parts of this pipeline, to impact upon attitudinal and cultural change. The project hopes to make inclusive workplaces the norm not the exception and support female apprentices to build their peer support network with access to role models at the very start of their career, encouraging the apprentices to think about the challenges and opportunities, developing their confidence and the skills to succeed.

Morven McColl, programme executive, Young Enterprise Scotland, said: “Over the course of four weeks of the virtual STEM workshops, I delivered workshops to support the girls in developing a marketing campaign that would encourage more young women into STEM based careers. It was a delight to work with these fantastic, driven young women through the project and I was so impressed by the levels of dedication, creativity and enthusiasm shown. The final marketing campaigns were of a high standard; I think this demonstrates why getting young people themselves to create messaging that will attract their peers is so valuable. Who better to influence girls interested in STEM than their peers?”

Shona Darroch, HR business partner, Diodes Semiconductors GB Ltd, said: “I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Women in Stem project.  We must do all we can to support more women into and returning to STEM-related careers and this project gave me and Diodes a chance to work with other companies to share ideas and best practice. It also was a great way to support our current female engineering apprentices, in what is still a male dominated environment. But with projects like this, we can hopefully start to even out the gender gap that engineering has.”

Paul Fagan, head of employability, West College Scotland, said: “Our Partnership recognises that there is an acute gender imbalance in the Scottish manufacturing sector and engineering workforce. Whilst the gender imbalance is extreme, there are significant opportunities within manufacturing and engineering trades, with the latest Regional Skills Assessment forecasting demand for 5,700 jobs in the west region alone by 2027.

“Our project can empower women to access and develop in these valuable jobs, through the development of robust skills pipelines.  For our College and our partners, this positive action reflects a commitment to putting equality and diversity at the core of our delivery.”

William Forrest, operations manager for engineering, Forth Valley College, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative in order to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.  Our world needs engineers to innovate and make changes which improve our lives and reduce our harm to the planet.  This partnership will raise awareness of the wide range of opportunities out there and encourage more young women to be a part of the fourth industrial revolution.”

Laura Smith-Gulliver, training and development manager, Equate Scotland, said: “The jobs of the future will rely on STEM skills, driven by an innovative and diverse workforce - vital to navigating a post-COVID world, climate change and other global challenges. Improvements in workplace equality are being made - but still persists in the attitudes, actions and processes of employers and society including how girls are encouraged to view their future workplaces and how women in STEM are supported and empowered when they get there. With STEM industries still dominated by men, women can face a challenging working environment - building networks, have fewer role models, and less peer support.”

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