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People Like Me are Engineers, and now I want to be one too!

Create your Future event, Leeds

In the UK today, government, employers and educators all acknowledge that there is a shortage of skilled technical professionals; over 100,000 new professionals are needed each year to 2020.

30 November 2015

Women are significantly under-represented in engineering and technology careers and if this continues and girls are not encouraged to pursue these subjects, the shortfall will be exacerbated and employers will struggle to fill vacancies with British talent for years to come. To address this skills shortage, we need to make the most of all our talents and that means encouraging more women to consider the choices that can lead to these exciting and rewarding career options.

These opportunities were explored on Wednesday 25th November at an interactive discovery workshop for girls, their parents and teachers.

The WISE Create Your Future event was run jointly by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), TAC (Technician Apprenticeship Consortium) and Leeds WISE hub lead by Leeds City College and Leeds College of Building; funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and part of the Apprentices – accessing untapped talent project. The project aims to increase the diversity of young people undertaking apprenticeships in the STEM sector; in particular girls, BME (black, minority, ethic) pupils, and disadvantaged groups.

The event was attended by 70 school girls, aged between 12-18, along with teachers and parents from 10 different schools from the Leeds Bradford and Huddersfield area. Comments included:

“I might change what I thought I would do – Hair and Beauty to Engineering!”

“I have learnt that not all engineers are men. There are different types of engineering and it is a well -paid job!”

“I have learnt that it is very important to keep my options open…and that I can combine many other subjects with science to find something I am passionate about doing in the future.”

Research has shown that positive role models are the most effective way of breaking down the stereotypes and myths that young people, parents and teachers have about careers within the STEM sector, and in supporting them to consider this career option in a positive way. For this event, WISE, Leeds College of Building and Leeds City College provided 13 inspirational role models from a variety of STEM sectors. Each table was hosted by one role model and the girls, parents and teachers had the opportunity to meet young women currently working in both technical and non-technical roles. They heard first-hand what it’s like to be an apprentice medical engineer, a building surveyor, a trainee zoologist and more. They could ask any burning questions and find out what route the role models took to get to where they are today.

Create your Future event, Leeds

Fay Best, WISE associate, delivered WISE’s revolutionary People Like Me resource to the girls attending the event. People Like Me is a novel approach for teachers, STEM ambassadors and others working with young people to show girls that careers in STEM are for people like them. Research conducted by WISE ‘Not for People Like Me’ suggested that girls are more likely to engage with careers in the STEM sector if they can relate to the personality of individuals working in those jobs. People like me works by showing the girls the huge range of personal attributes which suit them to roles within STEM. The girls first completed a quiz, with the help of role models, where they chose adjectives which they felt best describe them. These adjectives correlate with personality types, and job roles are suggested which these individuals may enjoy working in.

The role models had completed the People Like Me quiz prior to the session, and as such were able to show the girls that people just like them are happy and successful working in careers in STEM. This approach allowed the girls to interact with a variety of different role models, and allowed them to meet someone who had a similar personality type to them.

Read Eleanor Rowan's blog about the event, one of the role models at the event.

The People Like Me resources are available to download via our website. WISE are also offering individual training sessions for those wishing to gain training in the delivery of the revolutionary People Like Me resources.

If you are an employer, educator, trainer, careers adviser or individual passionate about promoting diversity within the STEM workforce, please get in touch with WISE to find out more about how to get involved! If your organisation is interested in a bespoke “People Like Me” resource pack for your organisation, please contact r.farenga@wisecampaign.org.uk for further information.

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