MORE than 100 schoolgirls piloted a virtual reality boat, used nitrogen cooling to make ice cream, programmed computer coded robots and operated a model of the Mars Rover at an event which aimed to encourage more women into science and engineering careers.
On International Women’s Day, 120 girls from 10 schools across the region took part in a Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) day at the INEOS TEAM UK headquarters.
With only 22 per cent of careers in science and engineering taken up by women, the aim was to inspire girls to consider a career in these industries.
The day was organised and co-ordinated by Portsmouth education charity, 1851 Trust. As reported in The News, after receiving £100,000 of funding from the Department for Transport the event is the first of 10 national roadshows focused on inspiring the next generation of female engineers and scientists.
Development manager, Beckie Denny, said: ‘Today is about building the girls’ confidence to challenge gender stereotypes and consider a career in Stem subjects. The girls will get the chance to speak to female role models from industry and sailing as well as taking part in a range of exciting activities on the Tech Deck. Hopefully they will come away thinking Stem is fun and is a career path they would like to take.’
Miltoncross pupil Charlotte Green, 12, said: ‘It has been really fun to try new things which you can’t do at school. I think it is good idea to get more girls involved in Stem subjects as they are generally seen as less confident in certain careers.’
Portsmouth Academy student, Shannon Hoskin, 11, added: ‘This event is a really good idea as it breaks down stereotypes. Girls have often been looked down on for certain careers and this helps to show that we can be just as good at science and engineering.’
One of the first key aims is to try and encourage a higher proportion of girls to opt for Stem subjects in their GCSEs,
Miltoncross’ head of IT Sharon Stone said: ‘In my computer science class I only have two girls in a class of 16. Similarly there are only 10 girls across my three IT classes. The girls here today are choosing their options this year and so hopefully today will open their eyes to just what Stem career possibilities are out there.’
The event was supported by organisations including Airbus, BAE Systems, University of Portsmouth and Helical Productions. Also supporting the event was former Olympian, INEOS team member and 1851 Trust ambassador, Annie Lush.
Annie said: ‘As a professional sailor, I should have certainly studied engineering and so today’s event is really important in educating girls as to the different career possibilities out there. Whilst society has made great strides there is still a lot to do to ensure girls are confident to operate in what have been traditional male environments.’
Priory School pupil, Freya Hawkes, 12, said: ‘Today has been great and I have learned so many things about jobs in Stem. It is really important that girls are better represented in engineering and science careers.’