Having run two large schools projects since 2014, Equate Scotland has learned what works for employers looking to engage young women in STEM careers.
In 2014, Equate Scotland ran a work-experience programme to encourage young women at secondary school to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The following year we ran careers activities for the same year groups to increase access to Modern Apprenticeships in STEM and the built environment.
From these projects we learned the following ways to engage young women in STEM careers:
- Develop a partnership with schools through your local authority. Local authorities have education officers who can help you access the schools that will benefit from your activities. They can also advise on the best times of year to run events.
- Link up with existing STEM initiatives in your area such as the Institute of Physics, Primary Engineer and STEMNET.
- Be clear about what you are looking for and consider how much time is needed to develop the activities.
- Run women-only activities. This is a lawful type of positive action and is more effective in attracting women to STEM than co-ed activities.
- Consider activities that highlight the communication and team working skills needed in STEM, as well as the technical skills. Although young women often have great technical abilities, they tend to identify more with having people skills.
- Involve women role models to challenge gender stereotypes. Young women often respond to role models they can relate to.
- Provide practical advice about the different routes into your industry or organisation, including apprenticeships and graduate entry schemes.
- Evaluate the impact of any activities by asking teachers and young women for feedback.