encouraging girls in to tech, STEM

Article provided by Alison Horton, principal engineer at built environment consultancy Curtins’ Birmingham office and STEM ambassador.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers will simply come from inspiring the next generation when it comes to career options as a whole.

Children – both girls and boys – need to be better educated on career possibilities and from an earlier age than they are at the moment.

That’s why I’m a STEM ambassador. Of course, we want more girls to be inspired to go into engineering as it is still very much male-dominated, but what we need is the next generation as a whole to be excited, enthused and passionate about their chosen career.

Many schools, teachers and parents are not able to highlight everything that every possible industry has to offer, so it’s important for representatives from all industries to step forward and do just that. From this greater knowledge, students can identify and follow their passions from a younger age to make a more informed choice on what is right for them.

I spend a lot of time encouraging other staff to get involved and giving talks to our other offices as part of a company initiative to promote the fantastic work of STEM ambassadors.

It’s easy to get involved as a STEM ambassador through a simple online application and induction. You only have to get involved with one activity a year, so you can flex your involvement based on how much time you have to spare. I applied when I started full-time work after graduation, having spent my university days helping at open days and being involved in the Women in Engineering society. Since applying, I haven’t stopped!

One particularly memorable activity was den building with students in the Lickey Hills. The students had to build dens using only a tarpaulin and whatever they could find in the woods. After an hour they had to get into their den whilst we threw water to test how waterproof their creations were. That and many of the events I get involved with through the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) are really engaging and hands on, and sometimes involve dressing up as a superhero.

It’s one of the most rewarding things about my career – realising that I could be a young person’s role model was an incredible feeling. I can’t recommend getting involved highly enough – the more we support our next generation now, the better the future of all our industries will be.

For more information, please visit www.curtins.com

About the author

Alison Horton is a senior engineer at the Birmingham office of built environment consultancy, Curtins.

Horton is also a STEM ambassador and is passionate about encouraging more people – both male and female – into STEM related jobs.