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WISE Annual Report 2013-2014

Annual Report of the WISE Campaign 2013-2014

Making the case


WISE grew significantly in this first year as a fully independent organisation, inspiring growing numbers of women and girls, parents, teachers, employers and policy makers to join the campaign towards our target: A 30% female workforce in science, technology and engineering in the UK.

Our achievements are down to the remarkable passion, creativity and commitment of everyone involved – the core team, associates, board, members, partners and patrons – including of course Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. My heartfelt thanks to you all – it is a privilege and an honour to work alongside you.

Helen Wollaston


Inspiring girls

We found 51 young women working for 27 different engineering and construction companies as role models to talk about their job to 165 girls, 32 parents and 25 teachers at Build Your Future workshops in London, Birmingham and Leeds. Based on a workshop developed with Intel and the Institute of Physics for the Big Bang Fair in March 2013, the first two events were commissioned by the Technician Apprenticeship Consortium with funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Leeds College of Building commissioned a third event, based at the new First Direct Arena in Leeds, with additional sponsorship from Incommunities. Twenty percent of the girls who came to these events were from a minority ethnic background and 70% did not have an engineer in the family. All involved gave very positive feedback:

"Just because we’re girls, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily girly and even if we are, doesn’t mean engineering is not for us."

“It was eye opening for many girls. I would recommend to other parents”

“Students came back enthused and excited at the prospect of a possible career in Engineering”

Supported by the Institute of Physics and Intel, WISE produced a free resource pack, Science it’s a people thing – so that other organisations can run similar events. Pepsico UK is one company using the pack for their outreach activities in schools.

New scholarship for female engineering students

Launched by Zara Phillips in May 2013, the Range Rover Evoque WISE scholarship attracted applications from 58 girls starting an engineering course the following September. Winner Harriet Vickers, from Spalding High School, was the only person in her year to apply to study engineering at university. Harriet will receive a bursary of £1000 a year whilst studying engineering at Durham University and has a mentor from Jaguar Land Rover and WISE.

Nicci Cook, Jaguar Land Rover Senior HR Manager Product Development, said:

“It was Jaguar Land Rover’s intention to inspire a whole generation of young women to consider a STEM career. I am confident not only that Harriet will go on to have a highly successful career, she will also be a great ambassador, encouraging other young women to embark on a similar career path.”

Promoting role models to a wider audience

Karen Husband, an engineer from Atkins, spoke to BBC Radio Scotland , STV and the Aberdeen Press and Journal about inspiring girls to go into engineering , on the day WISE Royal Patron HRH The Princess Royal spoke at a sell-out lunchtime seminar at Offshore Europe on women in the Oil and Gas industry, organised by Schlumberger in partnership with WISE. ‘Womaned’ by volunteers from Atkins, Shell, Schlumberger, BP, Halliburton, Edinburgh Napier University, Transocean, Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Aberdeen branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers the WISE stand became a focal point for discussion about women’s experiences. Comments ranged from “Best job ever”, to “You need a thick skin.” We are grateful to everyone who helped to bring the WISE stand to life including the Scottish Resource Centre, KCA Deutag, Reed Exhibitions and Xtreme.

Over the year, inspirational women from the WISE membership spoke at events organised by Babcock, Network Rail, DSTL, the Institute of Mining, Materials and Metallurgy and the Trade Union Congress. In December, we joined with our first trade union member, Prospect, for a reception to celebrate women working in non-traditional occupations. It was inspiring to see the life size photos of women featured in the Prospect Pioneers calendar displayed at the Royal Society, in stark contrast to the portraits of male Fellows hanging on the walls.

Sharing good practice

WISE members and partners shared good practice, ideas and experiences at three knowledge sharing breakfasts, hosted by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Network Rail. We spoke to teachers at the London Mayor’s Education Conference and the Northern Education conference with tips on engaging girls in science and to trade unionists at Union Learn events in Manchester and London to inspire them to get involved in the campaign.

Supporting University Technical Colleges to open up opportunities to girls

Baker Dearing Trust invited WISE to talk to Principals of University Technical Colleges in August 2013, which led to the development of a good practice advice booklet, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, bringing together advice on how these schools can open up new opportunities for girls. In the spirit of collaboration, we worked with the Women’s Engineering Society, the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology team at Sheffield Hallam University and law firm Eversheds on the content of the booklet, which was launched at the Big Bang Fair 2014.

“I very much hope that each and every UTC will do its best to embrace the advice, helping to ensure that we all contribute to attracting the very best people – men and women – into STEM, which is crucial to both the global and the UK economy.”

Lord Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust

Research with young people

My Science commissioned WISE to run focus groups with young people studying at further education colleges, to identify their motivations for and experiences of technical courses.

Developing women’s leadership skills

WISE ran three open courses during the year targeting women working or studying in STEM, to develop leadership skills. The one day “Developing leadership” course in partnership with Diversity Coaching Initiative was hosted at IBM in London, whilst Imperial College hosted a course on communications skills delivered by Screenhouse, with TV presenter and scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

WISE Awards 2013

Over 400 people joined us to celebrate the WISE awards 2013, generously hosted in the wonderful setting of the Making of the Modern World Gallery at the Science Museum. A new category for under 18s was won by Saheefa Ishaq, a 13 year old Leicestershire school girl who was recognised for her project to find the most effective method of cleaning kitchen and food preparation areas and developing a website to share her discovery.

A growing following on social media

We started 2014, the 30th anniversary of the WISE Campaign, with a Twitter campaign launched at one minute past midnight on 1 January, asking people to tell us what action they would take during the year to make a difference to the number of women in science.

"I will play minecraft with my 10 year old daughter and work with her to play and set up her own servers." Sonja Bernhardt, Technology entrepreneur

Our Twitter followers increased by over 2,500 during the year to just over 7,500 as of the end of March. Website traffic peaked at 8,000 unique visitors and nearly 34,000 page views in November – the month the WISE Awards were announced. There was increase of over 15,000 unique visitors to the website in the last 6 months of the year compared to the first half. We also continue to attract new subscribers to the WISE newsletter – reaching 10,250 by the end of March.

Joining up with others to make a bigger difference

WISE was one of thirty organisations invited to a round table at number 10 Downing Street in December 2013, to discuss how to get more women into STEM. Everyone agreed on the need to join up initiatives rather than invent new ones, so we took the initiative by inviting a cross section of our members and partners to a follow up meeting, hosted by corporate members Atkins at their offices in Euston Tower London. We agreed to work together to join up activity in three strategic areas: Making the case (inspiring more girls), building the pipeline (recruitment) and sustaining the pipeline (retention). This landmark meeting has developed into a closer working relationship with the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Leadership Group, industry partners and Government to speed up the pace of change.

WISE has provided expert input to the Institute of Physics for its work on girls, to the Department of Education (who boosted interest in our role model workshops by adding them to the Department’s own Twitter feed); Professor John Colman’s review of careers advice and Professor John Perkins’s review of engineering skills. We spoke at a Women in Transport reception at the House of Commons organised by the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transport and at a diversity round table at the Royal Society. When the Science and Technology Select Committee report on Women and science came out in March 2014, Sky News interviewed WISE Director Helen Wollaston, along with female scientists and engineers from the University of Huddersfield and Cummins – getting a positive message about the opportunities for women in engineering to a mass audience.

Strengthened team poised to grow the campaign

A growth in project and membership income has allowed us to strengthen the WISE core team this year. Jill Cook, Priya Patel, apprentice Kristie Milner, graduate intern Rebecca Winstanley and former UKRC team member Tamsin Spain joined the core team in Bradford. In January, we were delighted to recruit Nina Skorupska and Keith Purves to the board as Non Executive Directors, from a pool of 18 exceptionally well-qualified candidates and in June 2013 the board was further strengthened with the recruitment of Nick Baveystock. In February, we briefed eighteen associates from across the UK, all keen to work with us to extend the reach and impact of our work. The Director, Helen Wollaston, had the privilege of being selected for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme, delivered in Yorkshire by Leeds University Business School. After an intensive six month programme, supported by business mentors, WISE now is now working to an ambitious three year growth plan.


We were sad to say goodbye during the year to Annette Williams, founder and Director of the UKRC, who retired from the WISE board this year. We also said goodbye to Ingrid Ovenstone and Vicky Drake, both of whom worked tirelessly as members of the core team to re-establish WISE as an independent organisation in 2012.

Stronger financial position

We ended the year in a stronger financial position than last, having increased turnover by £33,000 to £236,000 and reduced our administrative costs by £143,000. Sustained growth gives us the confidence to invest reserves in the resource we need to grow our reach and impact in 2015 and beyond.

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