Only ‘1 in 10’ engineers are women, students told

Bekah Banks, Stephanie Flemming, Sophie Crighton, Rebecca McKay, Chloe McCullough and Tegan Clarke at the 'Women in STEM' event at Carrickfergus Grammar School. INCT 06-133-GR
Bekah Banks, Stephanie Flemming, Sophie Crighton, Rebecca McKay, Chloe McCullough and Tegan Clarke at the 'Women in STEM' event at Carrickfergus Grammar School. INCT 06-133-GR

Only ten percent of those in engineering roles are women, Carrick students have heard.

The figure was outlined during a ‘Women in STEM’ programme held at Carrickfergus Grammar school at the end of January.

Organised by Carrickfergus Learning Community, the event invited 200 year 10 girls from all four post-primaries in the borough to take part in a workshop.

The programme was led by Stormont-based consultancy group, eye4education. Ted Jensen from eye4education explained: “The event was mainly about dispelling some of the stereotypes that exist surrounding STEM careers and to encourage more women and girls to consider those fields.

“There are not enough people going into those subjects and especially not enough women, but between now and 2020, the UK economy is going to require an extra 830,000 people in these fields.

“Only 1 in 10 engineers are women and less than 10 percent of STEM apprenticeships are taken on by women. This is partly because of the stereotype of STEM careers as male-dominated fields, but also because companies have not been actively promoting women in these positions or going out of their way to bring them into these positions.

“We wanted to target the event at Year 10 girls as they’re at the stage where they will soon be picking their GCSE subjects.”

With the first half of the event dedicated to tackling perceived barriers for girls interested in the STEM fields, the afternoon session involved a practical and fun workshop. Ted added: “The girls got into teams and built their own rockets; they then competed against eachother to see who could shoot their rocket the highest.

“We also had a pre- and a post-survey for the girls who took part in the day; by the end of the event, there was a 20 percent rise in the numbers who said they would consider a career in the STEM fields.”