For centuries there have been assumptions about a man’s place and a woman’s place in the world - over time we’ve broken down these barriers and today we’re the most integrated we’ve ever been.
In spite of this, some of these misconceptions are still prevalent in the workplace and in school. The misconceptions in question here are what is typically seen as a male or female school subject. At present, the STEM workforce is male dominated with just 21% of women making up the total.
This figure highlights just how underrepresented women are in this field, and in order to correct these figures so that they are reflective of today’s society and provide women with an equal voice within these industries, we need to start with the education of our female students.
In order to help even out the representation of women in STEM professions, focus needs to be applied to these subjects in school. Schools need to be encouraging girls to pursue these subjects above GCSE, nurturing skills and passions from a young age and helping to breakdown the current stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding these subjects.
The determination to encourage girls to follow careers in STEM has ramped up in recent years and as a result, there are an abundance of resources and initiatives that schools and teachers can utilise to inspire female students to follow a career in STEM.
This case study from Ofsted looks at Sandbach High School as an example of good practice and explores the initiatives they’ve put in place to successfully encourage girls to pursue careers which are deemed ‘non-stereotypical’ such as those in the STEM field.
Code Club is a volunteer-led programme which offers children the opportunity to learn to code from a young age. Volunteers and educators donate their time in order to offer students from around the world free coding lessons after school. You can find a local code club or become a volunteer via their website.
This is a free service for state schools and colleges whereby volunteers from a wide range of jobs share their knowledge and experience with students. Volunteers go into schools to speak with students and provide them with insight into their profession, helping to inspire and better inform students on their future career choice.
This nationwide charity provides schools with free STEM career advice to help encourage students to follow a career in STEM. Founders4schools help to inspire students through inviting inspirational speakers into school, careers fairs, group mentoring and organising workplace visits.
This is an out-of-the-box after school club designed to specifically keep girls interested in IT. By creating fun challenges that are designed to encourage their tech skills through their existing interests such as music, sport and dance, TechFuture Girls helps to make IT fun and current. This is available for all UK schools and is curriculum compliant helping to develop girls’ self esteem, confidence and interest in IT.
Technology Will Save Us create kits which children build themselves to help spark the creative imagination of young people using technology. The kits are designed to harness children's creative sparks and inspire them to become creators of technology.
This website, made in honour of Ada Lovelace, aims to raise the profile of women in STEM subjects. There are a vast number of resources to hand that teachers can use to support the teaching of STEM subjects as well as addressing the challenge of combating gender stereotypes.
Heidi Olinger is an educator and social entrepreneur and founder of Pretty Brainy, an education non profit organisation which seeks to inspire and support girls from the ages of 10-18 in STEAM opportunities. Her TedX Talk on how to get girls to like STEM draws on her own experiences during school which today have made her passionate about encouraging young girls to pursue STEAM subjects and careers.
On the STEM Learning website, there an abundance of resources readily available to teachers for use in class as well as lesson plans. STEM Learning provide resources to educators and schools so they can ensure they have a high impact on the education of young people.
Ted recognise the importance of women in STEM and have dedicated a playlist to the talks given by inspiring women in this field which can be used to help inspire young girls to follow in their footsteps and positively impact the world of STEM.
Wise are dedicated to motivating those in business, industry and education to help the contributions, success and participation of women in STEM subjects. They offer free resources on their website for schools to use in class to help promote the importance of STEM subjects to female students.