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WISE develops partnership to encourage young people into STEM

Gender balance campaign partners with a range of organisations to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and maths

WISE has launched STEM Accord, a partnership with various organisations aimed at encouraging more young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The partnership with the ERA Foundation, STEM Learning, the Design and Technology Association and the Smallpeice Trust will see WISE work alongside the Royal Academy of Engineering, Engineering UK and the IET to develop a plan for outreach in schools to encourage more young people, girls in particular, into STEM.

WISE also called for collaboration between industry, education providers and government to train women with the skills needed for technology roles.

Helen Wollaston, chief executive of WISE, said: “Despite hundreds of outreach programmes, most girls in this country still think that science, tech and engineering aren’t for them. We can’t allow this to continue. By joining forces, we will make sure that all girls and their families get the message that these subjects open doors to the jobs of the future.”

WISE has previously called on the tech industry to encourage more girls into the sector, as a large majority of tech roles are currently filled by men. There are currently many initiatives aimed at trying to increase the number of women in the sector, but they often work in silos.

STEM Accord will combine the initiatives already being run by each of its members to scale its reach, and, as pointed out by ERA Foundation board member Jo Kennedy, combining these efforts will help to reach more people, and make efforts to increase diversity in the technology sector more consistent.

“As far as we are aware, this will be the first multi-organisation initiative to deliver STEM outreach to schools in line with the recommendations of the Perkins report, Engineering UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering,” she said. “This collaboration is vital to provide more cohesive support to students, teachers and parents across the UK to ensure that as many young people as possible, and particularly girls, are inspired and understand the potential STEM careers that could be open to them.”

Launching the STEM Accord partnership is part of WISE’s 2019 plan to help plug the UK’s growing skills gap across the entire pipeline, from young girls in school to women who may want a career move.

As well as improving the UK’s tech skills pipeline, WISE hopes to ensure women can retrain for STEM roles at any point in their career.

Read more about women in STEM

  • Women in technology have claimed diversity is still not a focus for their company in a majority of cases, according to research.
  • Booking.com has found that a majority of women in the technology industry would recommend a career in the sector to young women in schools, as well as to female undergrads.

As technology adoption is causing rapid change in all industries, it can be hard to determine what roles may be available in the future, so many have said a shift towards continuous learning and development will be important for the workplace of the future.

WISE hopes employers in the STEM industries will partner with universities and the government to prioritise training for women, ensuring that they are able to gain STEM skills and have access to learning at all stages of their career. This includes providing easy access into new roles through internships, training, returnerships and taster days.

Some organisations have begun to measure the progress made by various efforts to encourage women or other minorities into STEM roles, to determine what has been useful and what has not – for example, the Tech Talent Charter recently launched a benchmark to measure how well its signatory organisations are doing in their mission to improve gender diversity.

To ensure that the number of women receiving training and support to enter STEM roles continues to grow, WISE is also asking all organisations across the talent pipeline, from schools to employers, to set a target for the number of women and girls being encouraged into STEM.

WISE’s Wollaston added: “Technology is transforming our lives and yet more than 80% of those working in technology are men. We need to address this now to ensure that women have opportunities for the best-paid jobs, businesses can fill the technical roles they need, and women can play their full part in shaping our future world.”

Read more on Diversity in IT

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