In a room in central Glasgow buzzing with the energy of so many women STEM apprentices last Thursday evening, you could be forgiven for forgetting that gender segregation in STEM Modern Apprenticeships is stark. With around 15,000 companies employing 25,000 new MA starts every year in Scotland, we still have a long way to go to achieving balanced representation with only 1% of construction MAs, 6% of engineering MAs and 18% of ICT MAs being made up of women.

For many women in those apprenticeship frameworks, they will be the only woman on site or in the workshop, and it’s therefore important to provide opportunities for them to come together with other women from industry.

It was for this reason that on 20th July, in partnership with SSE and SDS, Equate Scotland hosted ‘MA Connect’, a networking and career development for female apprentices working in STEM. The event brought together 25 women working in STEM Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), from 16 different companies across STEM sectors and from far afield as Thurso.

The diverse event programme offered opportunities for the women to network with one another, to participate in a choice of career development workshops and to hear from speakers, including former apprentice and Production Manager at Rolls Royce, Claire Meiklejohn, and STEM Learning Coordinator Laura Alexander-Smith.

SSE apprentices Emma and Morna had this to say about the event:

“I really enjoyed the MA connect event as it gave me the opportunity to meet other young women my age, in a similar role to me, which I hadn’t experienced a lot before. I think SSE should sponsor events like this again, to encourage networking with other organisations. I really enjoyed listening to former MA’s talk about their experience as it has shown me that women can have a successful career in industry and the event also made me want to encourage younger females into STEM jobs”.

Emma Mackay (Electrical Apprentice)

“I really enjoyed the event ran by Equate Scotland, it’s the second event of theirs that I have attended. It’s really motivating to meet lots of other young women in apprenticeships like myself and it was a great inspiration hearing a former MA speak about how her career has developed since finishing her apprenticeship. I think it’s so important for SSE to support these events as it truly shows their passion in encouraging women into STEM roles. My hope would be that women will start to recognise that there is a place for them in these industries”.

Morna Grant (Mechanical Apprentice)