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WISE News | WISE CEO - Helen Wollaston | December 2017

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As 2017 draws to a close, we can celebrate a significant increase in the number of women working as professional engineers

6 December 2017

At last, the percentage has reached double figures. In technology however, we have seen a drop in the number of women – professionals and apprentices.

We are also very concerned that the introduction of new technical qualifications has widened the gender gap in the educational pipeline. 94% of boys took a core STEM qualification at level 3 this year, compared to just 35% of girls.

It is so important that we show girls and their parents the value of choosing maths, physics, computing and/or a technical vocational qualification at 16. Our People Like Me resources targeting 11-14 year old girls are making a difference, but we need to scale the reach and impact by putting the content onto a digital platform. Get in touch if you would like to join founder sponsors CA Technologies, BAE Systems and supporting sponsor Network Rail to get this project off the ground in 2018.

It is not just about engaging girls - we hope that the Adult re-training fund, announced in the Industrial Strategy White paper, will create pathways for women who are out of the labour market or who did not choose STEM subjects at school to take up the growing opportunities in engineering and technology.

Whilst we must do more to attract more women in, we know from our members that more action is needed on retention. In male-dominated environments where women may not have the same access to support as they would in other sectors, the onus is on managers to make sure that women are treated with respect. Given the heightened awareness of sexual harassment, I hope that WISE members will respond to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s call for evidence by sharing examples of effective solutions.

Finally, on a more positive note – take inspiration from the fabulous winners of the 2017 WISE Awards to see what more you can do, with WISE, to meet our target of one million women working in STEM in the UK by 2020. Enjoy the festive season and come back re-energised to drive forward the campaign in 2018.

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