Anyone with any interest in education will be aware of the statistics highlighting the STEM skills gap and in particular the detail of how women are under-represented in industry.
There is a huge demand for employees with science, technology, engineering and maths backgrounds and there is a huge hole to plug in terms of students studying for these careers. Many industries, schools and universities have started to work really hard to raise awareness of the issue: with much of the focus lying on encouraging engagement from girls. Women currently make up only 14.4% of people working in STEM In the UK. However, they make up about half of the workforce. Something that many schools in particular have recognised as an issue that needs resolving, and quickly.
Schools take many approaches to bridging this gender gap. One of the most common is to put role models in front of girls. This is particularly effective, particularly given the lack of media representation of women in science. From basing house systems on the names of notable women in girls’ schools to inviting role models and ex-students in to talk, inspirational role models are an obvious starting point on a school’s quest to address this issue.
It’s not just external visitors who provide inspiration: ex-students, parents and members of the local workforce including a school’s own teaching staff and technicians can provide inspiration, given the opportunity.
One easy way to find an inspiring visitor is to contact STEM Learning to arrange for a STEM ambassador to come into school and work with students and tell them what life working in these areas is like.
Many schools use specialist teachers to drive enthusiasm and encourage students to enter STEM competitions, of which there are so many. This can often lead to opportunities such as applying for awards like the Science Mark offered by STEM Learning, the UK’s partnership of Government, charitable trusts and employers, that aims to raise young people’s engagement and achievement in STEM subjects and careers.
STEM Clubs are another way for schools to easily inspire students – there are many free resources for schools to use to set one up with ease, and these are often the most oversubscribed clubs in schools, if set up in the right way.
Your school could encourage its students to take part in CREST Awards, challenges, science weeks and challenges and even organise for placements and work experience in industry.
Whichever approach your school chooses to take, it’s important to make sure you are shouting about your efforts. Not only will this encourage further involvement from potential STEM partners, but it will augment your reputation as a school that takes this issue seriously.
With all of the potential for activity over a year, your website and social media channels are the perfect place to promote this activity. However, with the right tools, you can also update your prospectus with news of your school’s STEM offering on a regular basis. This might seem like an expensive option, but with Unify for Schools, you can update content and pick and choose how many copies and which elements of your prospectus you print and send to parents to inform them of your school’s progress in this field. Find out more at www.Unifyschools.com