group of high school students

Why we choose STEM Education

group of high school students

At Park Lane Primary School and Nursery, a member of the Griffin Schools Trust, we are combining STEM and traditional education to offer the best lessons and to spark curiosity.

STEM education ensures pupils focus more on science, technology, engineering, and maths.

STEM brings more to the table as it requires a more hands-on approach to real-life applications and engages the pupils in a more interactive way than a standard class. As a result, children develop a genuine interest in the topic.

Given the fact that there is still a gender imbalance in the fields that STEM covers, we believe that starting from a young age will empower more women to follow a career in science and technology. This is the right moment in time to begin nurturing new interests, and our school is determined to do its part in rectifying gender imbalance within the industry.

STEM also brings out various skills the children will need, such as problem-solving, exploration, and critical thinking. Starting early will also create a habit of staying curious, which will help them navigate easier in higher education levels and life.

Through science, our pupils learn the fundamental concept about nature, humanity, and the universe in ways that are accessible, and mathematics develops the analytical thinking process. In addition, it helps us understand and memorise formulas from a young age.

When it comes to technology, STEM provides the best set-up for dealing with complex softwares because children are accustomed to elaborating systems. Also, this teaches them that there is no challenging problem, only more to learn to tackle the issue correctly.

Finally, the pupils develop out-of-the-box thinking through engineering, as this field often requires children to develop new ideas and encourages their technical thinking.

STEM subjects might be a lot to comprehend, but the curriculum caters to the children, ensuring the subject is easy to approach and explored at a child-friendly pace. As a result, our children are immersing themselves into a whole new universe, having fun, and growing up with a positive attitude of seeing challenges as just that, and not giving in at the first hurdle.

Given the fact that there is still a gender imbalance in the fields that STEM covers, we believe that starting from a young age will empower more women to follow a career in science and technology.

Our teachers play a significant role in teaching and guiding the pupils to either new topics or encouraging them to pursue more of one issue that seems to be the right fit. Teachers also ensure that all children experience a scientific experiment using our technology.

We always seek out role models to inspire our young learners, and we are delighted that this year, strong  A’level results in our Griffin secondary schools enabled 38% of students to secure places to study STEM courses, including medicine related degrees.

At Park Lane, we provide access to interactive projects through the Griffin University and Griffin Science Symposium, and extra-curricular clubs such as Lego, coding, model making, computing, and animation. Our children love that they get to choose from various lessons and have control and input into how and what they learn.

We will continue introducing STEM education from a young age, encouraging our pupils to try as many subjects as possible and showing that education can be entertaining. The Trust’s vision of Proud Traditions, Wide Horizons, and High Achievement is also a promise to our children that we will nurture them and offer them the best opportunities that STEM can offer.

About the author

Alexandra-LadburyAlexandra Ladbury is Head of School at Park Lane Primary School and Nursery. With a passion for nurturing children’s learning, and developing a positive and wholesome environment for them to learn in, Alexandra is laying strong foundations for Park Lane pupils’ futures.

Knowing she was destined for education, Alexandra went to Birmingham City University to study for an early years degree, before completing her PGCE at University College Birmingham. After completing her NQT year and spending a year as a teacher, Alexandra joined Park Lane as a class teacher for year one pupils.

At Park Lane, Alexandra quickly rose through the ranks. It is here that she took her Masters in SENDCO, taught Reception and Year three, before becoming Deputy Head in 2018; a significant achievement, after just five years from qualifying as a teacher.

Alexandra’s talent for leadership and driving change within the school was noticed by the Griffin Schools Trust, which Park Lane is a part of, and she was promoted to Head of School in 2020. The school now boasts initiatives such as free private music lessons and dance lessons with The Royal Ballet. Such initiatives provide opportunities for the children that they may otherwise have not been exposed to.

Alexandra absolutely epitomises the values of Park Lane Primary School and Nursery, and, as such, has risen to the top and created a school which truly brings out the best in all the children. Under her leadership, Park Lane is supporting today’s learners to become tomorrow’s leaders.


Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.

How education can help close the gender gap in STEM

Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.Georgina Harris, the Dean of the Faculty of STEM at Arden University, discusses why gender disparity in STEM is so strong and the importance of practical work in schools and exposure to the STEM industry at a young age.

The STEM gender gap prevails. Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women and this under-representation occurs in every region in the world, from schools, right up to senior professionals. In schools, boys are traditionally more likely to choose STEM subjects and to move on to studying STEM degrees at university. In fact, according to recent UCAS data provided by HESA, only 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women.

Why the gap exists

The gender gap in STEM is not about ability, as research shows that on the whole women and girls outperform men and boys in engineering fields of study, but more about implicit bias and stereotypes. In the UK, many people associate science and maths fields with “male” and humanities and arts fields with “female”. Such implicit bias is common, and it affects individuals’ attitudes not only to others, but what they themselves are capable of achieving.

In PwC’s Women in Tech report, they identified some of the main reasons why girls weren’t choosing STEM topics from their GCSEs onwards, including: being better or gaining better grades in humanities or other essay-based subjects; not finding STEM subjects as interesting; STEM subjects not being relevant to the career they plan to choose; and teachers not making STEM subjects appealing.

Added to this, 53% of girls asked in this survey also said their preferred career was a factor in their choice of A-Levels, compared to just 43% of boys, suggesting that despite thinking ahead, girls can’t envisage a career in STEM roles for themselves.

If you pair this with the fact that the STEM industry is male-dominated and therefore tends to perpetuate inflexible, exclusionary cultures that do not attract nor support women’s careers, the reasoning behind the gender gap becomes a little clearer.

Historically, the United Kingdom has produced some of the best engineers, scientists and inventors in the world. Consequently, the uptake of STEM subjects by international students looking to study here and learn the secrets of our success has increased whilst the take-up of these subjects by our home students has languished behind.

We are already in desperate need of STEM specialists at every level. Even if we ignore the expansion of the engineering and technology sector, we are now facing the worrying prospect of having insufficient engineers in development even to keep pace with those retiring from the industry each year. We know that talented individuals with these skillsets can find higher salaries and greater status in other countries and moreover these skillsets can be used in innumerable other well-paid careers such as business, programme management and finance. So how are we going to plug this ever-widening gap? 

How schools can close the gap

Schools have, for many years, been faced with the challenge of delivering education on a shoestring budget. Suitably talented specialist school educators are difficult to find in mathematics and the sciences. Not all schools have the funding to attract these scarce individuals nor to ensure that every young person receives career advice and guidance that covers the broad and rich range of opportunities that STEM affords. In addition, many schools in the UK have had to minimise the practical, experimental and manufacturing activities that would previously have encouraged students to consider the STEM subjects.

In my experience, learners gain so much from tackling a challenge that, as yet, has no solution; the opportunity to solve a puzzle before anyone else. For a real engineer or scientist, this is intoxicating; the excitement that keeps you working hard and that gives you that rush when you have your first success.

Schools are also locked in perpetual competition with neighbouring schools that drives school leaders to prioritise their league table outcomes over those of individual students. Young people who may improve their prospects by taking a mathematics or science qualification are frequently encouraged to take another subject in which they are more likely to get a top grade. This approach is dissuading young people from studying STEM subjects and disadvantaging those who do wish to choose STEM as a career.

The STEM industry needs more government support; this would involve schools getting better funding so that students can have the opportunity to step away from the desk and experience the wonders of a STEM career in practice. This experience would entice those who are wary of entering the field – especially young girls who see the dominant membership of STEM careers as male. Many students are surprised to learn how STEM applies to so many different industries; it fits into the latest, state-of-the-art running shoe design as much as it fits into the development of the latest disease curing drug. By exposing children to the wonderful possibilities that STEM affords, girls will begin to see that their aspirations to make the world a better place are possible through a career in STEM.

Moving into university

Embarking on a new career is a challenge for everyone. Young people build their confidence through experience at school, university and in industry. As schools have reduced the opportunity for pupils to engage with practicals to save costs, it is left to the university sector and their industry partners to support and nurture our new STEM recruits and give them the experience and constructive feedback that they need so that they too feel welcome and needed.

An essential ingredient of the successful Arden University model to date is the use of authentic assessments and engagement with companies in the development of our programmes and assessments. This gives our students two massive advantages: the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of design and development in the nurturing environment of university and the opportunity to “try” working on projects for several companies. The companies who work with us gain the opportunity to interview our students over the duration of the project and help us to identify areas of the curriculum that need to be strengthened. This also gives students the confidence to apply their learning in the working world, an important aspect when retaining new entrants in the field.

Ongoing projects like High Speed 2 (HS2) will take years to deliver and offer young people high profile and potentially stable employment in engineering and construction for many years to come. There is a real opportunity in projects such as these for new entrants to the industry to be mentored through apprenticeships in parallel with their academic studies. Similarly, the announcement of £5 billion of investment in “Project Gigabit” in the Government white paper “Levelling Up the United Kingdom” means another major infrastructure investment intended to ensure fair access to broadband across the UK which will generate employment in engineering, technology and computing. Not only are these projects great ways to encourage learners to engage with STEM but they also provide intrinsic societal benefit and generate tax returns to the public purse for further investments.

As an engineering and technology community, we need to work together to regenerate enthusiasm for our discipline by nurturing learners at every stage of their education. To meet the needs of our civilisation, we need creative, resilient, enthusiastic and engaged engineers, technologists and computing specialists who reflect the diverse society that they serve.


Free training courses - WeAreTechWomen (800 × 600 px)

Get into tech with these free training courses

Are you in the tech industry and looking to learn new skills? Or do you want a career change and are unsure of where to start?

There are an abundance of companies and social enterprises that can provide you with free training. Here at WeAreTechWomen, we have pulled together a number of great opportunities for you to explore.

A number of these organisations provide online distance learning, whereas some also provide the opportunity to join them at events and to be part of their communities!

Go explore, and if we have missed an organisation that provides these opportunities for women to get into tech, you can drop us a note at [email protected].

Code First Girls


Code First Girls has become the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, having delivered over £40 million worth of free technology education and teaching three times as many women to code as the entire UK university undergraduate system!

Find out more

Coding Black Females


Coding Black Females was created in 2017. We are a nonprofit organisation, and our primary aim is to provide opportunities for Black female developers to develop themselves, meet familiar faces, network, receive support and build relationships through having regular meetups.

Find out more

OpenLearn


Produced by The Open University, a world leader in open and distance learning, all OpenLearn courses are free to study. We offer nearly 1000 free courses across eight different subject areas. Find free science, maths and technology courses below.

Find out more

TechUP Women


TechUP is a training programme that focuses on training individuals from minority groups into tech careers. Working closely with industry the TechUP team creates a programme tailored to industry needs whilst also ensuring every participant gets an amazing learning experience.

Find out more

LinkedIn Learning


Advance your career with LinkedIn Learning. Learn from courses taught by industry experts in leadership, management, marketing, programming, IT, photography, graphic design, web and interactive design, 3D animation and much more.

Find out more

Trailhead by Salesforce


Start your adventure by learning the way you want with Salesforce’s Trailhead. Learn at your own pace with learning paths designed just for you, take classes taught by Salesforce experts, and get answers from fellow Trailblazers in our community.

Find out more

Discover more free training courses


We've rounded-up a number of different organisations that offer free coding clubs, training courses and ways you can get into the tech industry.

LEARN MORE

Why gamification means motivation in the future of education

child playing game on white ipad

Article provided by Nikolas Kairinos, CEO, Soffos.ai

Nowadays, gamification technologies are gaining a lot of traction in educational settings.

This is hardly surprising in the current climate, as schools are only just easing out of COVID-19 enforced closures, and more generally grappling with how they can keep their students more engaged. As a rule of thumb, people from the millennials and Gen Z demographic, tend to get bored quite easily, so traditional lesson plans and courses are less effective methods of teaching them. Luckily, however, gamification technologies can be very effective when implemented well.

Whether you are a corporate training manager, a teacher or even a course provider, these technologies can mean the difference between unengaged students struggling to retain important information, and proactive learners ready to pass their examinations with flying colours and exceed their targets.

With this in mind, how can institutions stay ahead of the game when it comes to keeping their learners interested and engaged?

More than just fun and games 

Going back to basics, learning leaders should familiarise themselves with what gamification actually means in practice: It refers to the use of game-design elements and principles outside of traditional gaming contexts. The chances are, if you have tried to improve the ‘strength’ of your LinkedIn profile or swapped a loyalty card full of stamps for a free coffee at your local store, then you have been ‘gamified’ to one extent or another.

The idea of including these tactics in education specifically, is that people generally enjoy the gaming experience and tend to come back to learn more. Research suggests that playing video games releases dopamine in the brain – a ‘feel good’ chemical, which users then learn to associate with reward and success. Furthermore, learning from behavioural science also indicates that this motivation ‘nudges’ learners to press on with their objectives – whether this is reaching a new level of language fluency within an app, or racking up points in the classroom to trade in for a prize at the end of a school week.

Clearly, gamification strategies are intrinsic to motivation in educational settings, but where the real challenge lies not necessarily just getting knowledge-seekers to learn, but encouraging them to keep on learning to retain vital information.

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How can educators use gamification?

Educators might be wondering how gamification techniques and technologies work in context. This might depend on the specific learning environment – a corporate learning leader delivering a course on digital marketing to employees at an executive level will have vastly different requirements to a schoolteacher or a university professor.

For example, a high school English teacher looking to help students brush up on their ability to recall Shakespearean verse for an upcoming examination might use flashcard-creator apps and quiz platforms, which can be very useful devices in the memory retention process. In fact, even long before modern technology was available, one summative analysis of over 200 experiments conducted across 70 years actually suggests that learners are more likely to recall and retain new knowledge after using these devices, than if they were to simply take notes the regular way. In essence, this provides a simple solution which removes much of the onerous tedium out of the revising process, which might make students more inclined to put the preparation in ahead of their assessments.

Elsewhere, most teachers will be acutely aware of the unique challenges that come along with keeping students engaged throughout a full day of remote lessons. Back-to-back Zoom instruction can only stir so much enthusiasm, and educators will find that they are in need of something a little more special to remedy this. Integrating games into their lesson plans, as well as setting gamified tasks as extension or homework for accomplished learners would be a good start. A language teacher might benefit from allocating certain modules and courses to students on Duolingo, for example. Here, learners can compete against each other to top the leaderboard, earn virtual currencies, and acquire a new level of understanding, which should be a win-win for both student and teacher.

Beyond just improving knowledge retention, educators will likely find that implementing gamification makes their life easier, too. From a planning perspective, these technologies present learners with clear tasks and objectives, making progress much easier to monitor.

Ultimately, gamified technologies can help learners keep up with their educational goals, even when current circumstances are presenting a significant challenge. Ensuring that learning is a fun and stimulating experience should be high on the agenda for all educators.

Nikolas KairinosAbout the author

Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of Soffos.ai, which is building the next generation of educational technology solutions. Whether you’re a trainer, teacher, or individual app user, the SoffosTM Cognitive AI Engine puts knowledge locked away in all your files and resources straight into the palm of your hand. 


School of Code

School of Code is expanding it’s free Skills Bootcamp to people across England

School of Code

The School of Code is taking its ground-breaking, free coding bootcamps across the country.

Starting on 15th November 2021, the Skills Bootcamp in software development will be full-time, intensive, and 100 per cent FREE to residents in five English regions – the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, London and the South East.

This expansion is in partnership with the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Plan for Jobs.

School of Code - Cohort 2

There are no prerequisites to apply and no previous experience required – those applying for the course don’t even need to have seen a line of code before.

School of Code takes a learner from beginner to software developer in just 16 weeks before helping them find their first role in tech.

Already this year, during the pandemic lockdowns, they have successfully helped 62 people go from zero to programmer and started their professional tech careers.

The course prides itself on being open to anyone, with diversity in each cohort, a 50:50 gender split and an age-range of 18-60. The School of Code has helped former teachers, return to work parents, school leavers, refugees, bakers, unemployed people, barbers, retail assistants, musicians, artists, air hostesses, beauticians, personal trainers, PhDs, probation officers, health and hospitality workers all learn how to code and change their career paths. Previous graduates have successfully secured roles at employer partners including The Economist, Bravissimo, Santander, Gymshark, Wise, and many more.

They are looking to help 192 people across the country start new careers by April 2022.

School of Code - Karenjeet Chahal

Speaking about the announcement, Dr Chris Meah, Founder of the School of Code said, “Technology will be the engine of recovery for the country, but we need to make sure everyone is on board to benefit.”

“At the School of Code we are free and open to everyone to remove barriers for people.”

“Our mission is to help more and different types of people take advantage of the opportunities technology gives, and to future proof their skills and career.”

“We believe talent can come from anywhere. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing life-changing educational opportunities.”

“That’s why we provide a free route taking people from knowing nothing about technology to becoming world-class tech talent, and partner with employers to help land people into jobs and make our new model of education sustainable.”

“Skills Bootcamps offer a short, intensive, immersive and transformational learning sprint to a new career.”

“The experience helps to change lives and power growth by giving participants the right skills to be immediately useful to employers on day one.”

“But crucially our bootcampers also learn how to learn.”

APPLY HERE
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Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.

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Skills City & Find your Flex offer free training to empower women and ethnic minorities in the North West to accelerate into technology careers

Skills City and Find your Flex have joined forces to empower women and ethnic minorities in the North West to accelerate into technology careers, through free training.

The tech training courses, funded by the Department of Education, are an opportunity for learners to advance their own digital knowledge and hopefully go on to become Senior Leaders of the future. There are also courses offering pure beginners a fast-track opportunity to a career in tech.

Skills City and Find Your Flex have chosen to work together, to empower those groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing increase in Automation in process-based jobs, by supporting them onto free training courses with a guaranteed job interview at the end.

Through this programme, they hope to help level the playing field and fast-track careers in the innovative and flourishing technology sector.

Skills City will run six Skills Bootcamp academies virtually or at HOST in Media City, fast-tracking 450 people into digital technology careers over the next 12 months.

On average, students will be able to start a new career at a qualified Junior level with starting salaries from £16-25K.

The Skills Bootcamps will commence this September and the courses will also run again in January 2022. Each course varies in length from 12-16 weeks, & are available on a full or part-time basis. All applicants must be aged 19 or over, employed or unemployed for less than 12 months and be a resident based in the North West of England.

The Skills City & Find Your Flex partnership is looking to recruit candidates to start on the September and January courses now, into the following cohorts:

AWS re/Start in Cloud Engineering, Unity Professional Artist Programme & the Raytheon Cyber Academy.

The AWS re/Start course doesn’t need any formal previous experience, whilst the Raytheon Cyber Academy requires some experience and a genuine interest in cyber security. The Unity Professional Artist programme requires a minimum level 4 graphic design or arts-based qualification or higher.

Cheney Hamilton CEO FindYourFlexSpeaking about the programme, Cheney Hamilton CEO and Founder of Find Your Flex said, “We are so excited here at Find Your Flex to be working with Skills City to help realise our ambition to help women disproportionately affected by the challenges of the past 18 months, to find a new way to re-career into an industry that is future proof.”

“We’ve seen so much devastation on jobs, especially on women over the age of 45, who have lost the ability to earn due automation across multiple industry sectors, sped up by COVID-19.”

“We’re proud to help Skills City recruit digital trainees to their amazing programmes”.

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TechWomen100 2021 logo

TechWomen100

Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.

CAST YOUR NOMINATIONS

Girls in tech, STEM

Ensuring equality for the engineering sector through education

Girls in tech, STEM

Although the engineering sector is primarily male dominated, the sector actually has the potential to be an inspirational leader in equality.

If we were to define engineering, it would come down to the capability of shaping technology, which is a creative combination. Engineering is ultimately conceiving, designing and developing technology systems, their parts, and the related vertical applications.

An industry for everyone

Like many industries, the engineering sector has significantly evolved over the last few decades. Despite this, the constant core capability of an engineer is to design and build a technological framework. This characteristic should be one of the key driving forces to strive for equality. Why? Because technology is neutral, it is neither good nor bad, and is there to be tailored to assist the needs of us humans. Therefore, a profession based on technology, and on the capability of using it in the design and development stages, starts with a great advantage. Certainly, the neutrality of technology is a great responsibility for engineers, because along with their systems, they can also shape it to benefit humanity.

Essential enginnering education

At this point, education is key to largely improving the potential for equality within the sector. There is a lot of content in the education domain which can help reach this goal. The first is recognising technology as an ally of humanity, rather than a competitor. The pandemic has clearly shown all humans do not need to be afraid of technology – because it is neutral. An example of this is with Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based robots, which are a major outcome of the amazing progress of engineering over the last few decases. The relationship between humans and AI-based robots should be more cooperative and thus based on a peer-to-peer approach. By educating younger generations on this, society will be much more educated around the benefits of technology.

Education on the above items can make the difference in the way engineers approach the ideation, design and development of systems and their vertical domains. The effects would then result almost automatically in a broader, deeper and more lasting equality in the field. There has never been a more important time for us to encourage education in this field, especially for women, who may feel that it is not as achievable.

Marina RuggieriAbout the author

Marina Ruggieri is an IEEE fellow and Full Professor of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Roma “Tor Vergata”. She is co-founder and Chair of the Steering Board of the interdisciplinary Center for Teleinfrastructures (CTIF) at the University of Roma “Tor Vergata”. The Center focuses on the use of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for vertical applications (health, energy, cultural heritage, economics, law) by integrating terrestrial, air and space communications, computing, positioning and sensing.


Discover more for International Women in Engineering Day:

Kerrine Bryan featuredInspirational Woman: Kerrine Bryan | Award-winning Engineer and Founder of Butterfly Books

Kerrine Bryan – an award winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books.

Kerrine has gone on to smash many glass ceilings to become respected in her field.

She was shortlisted in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 for notable women in business and, in 2015, she won the Precious Award for outstanding woman in STEM. Kerrine is a volunteer mentor for the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is an avid STEM Ambassador. It was while she was undertaking talks at various schools across the country for children about engineering and what her job entails that she became inspired to set up her independent publishing house, Butterfly Books.

In response to this, Kerrine published a series of books (My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer and My Mummy Is A Plumber) as a means of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers, that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues. The fourth book in the series, My Mummy Is A Farmer, launched last month – August 2018.

Read Kerrine's full interview here


Engineering: a world that works for everyone

It seems obvious, but if we want to design a world that is meant to work for everyone, we need women in the room. But this is rarely the case.

Most offices are five degrees too cold for women, because the formula to determine their temperature was developed in the 1960s based on the metabolic resting rate of a 40-year-old, 70kg man; women’s metabolisms are slower.

Despite research showing that women are more likely to own an iPhone than men, the average smartphone is now 5.5 inches, allowing the average man to comfortably use his device one handed – but the average woman’s hand is not much bigger than the handset itself.

These are all examples from the excellent work of feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez – most famous for campaigning for better representation of women on British banknotes – who argues that the people taking the decisions that affect us all are mostly white, able-bodied men.

Read the full piece here


gender-equality-featured

Achieving gender parity in the tech sector starts with education

Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Services and Public Benefit, Nominet

gender equalityWhile most of us are many years beyond our own summer exam result nerves, each August is still a moment of interest.

Not only do the annual GCSE and A Level results shine a light on the UK’s endlessly evolving education system, they also provide early indications of what we might expect from the workers of tomorrow.

Although we can never predict the career path of a student based on their exam subjects, those of us working in the tech sector are always hoping to see more young women taking STEM subjects at school as a first step towards a tech career. At A Level this year, the number of entries in STEM subjects increased by 1.7% in England, yet the all-important gender gap continues to worsen. Computing, ICT, and Maths all saw a wider gender gap than 2018, with less females to males. It was positive to see that the gender gap in physics improved this year, but it remains significant.

At GCSE level, the number of girls taking computing rose this year, with entries up 14%. Unfortunately, women still only made up 21.4% of the total student numbers. With girls outperforming their male counterparts in both A-level computing and ICT – and in GCSE computing – the proficiency for these subjects is clearly there, but girls are lacking the interest or appropriate encouragement to consider careers in what is an incredibly rewarding sector.

What is turning our female students away from tech? A PWC report can offer some insight: A survey of over 2,000 A Level and university students found that only 27% of women would consider a career in tech and a mere 3% think of it as a first choice. A lack of visible role models is a major issue; only 22% of all students could name a famous woman working in tech. There is also gender discrimination in career guidance, with only 16% of female students having had a role in tech suggested to them, compared to a third of males. We know that parents also have a role to play, and Nominet’s own research found that British parents are steering their daughters away from a career in tech, favouring a career as a doctor or teacher for their girls.

While parents and teachers have an opportunity to widen the career choices of young women, tech industry workplaces must also strive to create an environment that is appropriate and welcoming to females as much as males. We don’t want women to be dissuaded by what they may perceive as a ‘male’ environment, where progression could be hindered. As a woman in tech myself I strive to ensure Nominet as a company is open and attractive to both genders equally.  We are signed up to the Tech Talent Charter, a great organisation that is raising awareness of the need for diversity in business and providing a space for tech companies to share knowledge and best practice. Simple changes like targeted advertising can be crucial to capture the interest of a diverse range of candidates and encourage them to consider joining a company.

Other efforts Nominet is undertaking include helping to increase the number of young people considering careers in tech through our programmes such as Nominet Digital Neighbourhood and our work with the Micro:bit Foundation. We also regularly create ‘women in tech’ profiles on our blog to highlight some of the great women we have working at Nominet, as well as women working across the industry. These articles help to demonstrate the breadth of roles and career paths for the women working in technology, and we hope they serve to make these roles seem interesting and attractive – and not out of reach. Personally, I try to write articles that promote my own positive journey through tech and take up invitations to speak at events. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.

Ultimately, getting anywhere close to gender parity in the tech industry will require wide scale social change, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. We can all make changes in our spheres of influence, whether as parents, teachers, career advisors, or tech sector employees. We can all contribute to a wider cultural discourse that will open up this exciting industry to the many girls who are discounting it and encourage them to bring their skill set to enhance the industry and the future it is shaping.

About the author

Eleanor Bradley Eleanor Bradley is MD of Registry Services & Public Benefit at Nominet, the profit-for-a-purpose company known for running the .UK internet infrastructure. She has over 20 years’ experience in the internet industry and in her current role leads the teams responsible for commercial activity related to Nominet’s registry business as well as the company’s corporate services.

 In 2016, she was named as a role model in the category of Board Level & Senior Executive of the Year at the Women in Business awards and is a keen champion of women in IT and advocate of encouraging more girls to explore STEM subjects. She sees the internet as a force for good and, as Nominet is a public benefit company, is developing a number of projects designed to empower and upskill young people to help future-proof the hiring pool of the UK’s digital economy.


Salesforce increases diversity through education and development of young people and returners

Salesforce is focusing its efforts on education and developing young people and returners to increase diversity within the technology sector, says Charlotte Finn, Vice President, Programs-EMEA at Salesforce.org.

Speaking to WeAreTheCity at the Salesforce World Tour 2016, which took place recently at the London Excel Centre, Finn said: “Salesforce has been focusing on workforce development and education.”Salesforce logo - increasing diversity

“We have been bringing kids into Salesforce tower to experience what working in technology is like and also we have invited the unemployed and those that wish to return to work after a break. Unemployed candidates and returners are being encouraged through Salesforce’s Trailhead path, which is a training course for developers to learn Salesforce at all levels.

“It’s about reminding them of the confidence and getting the Salesforce staff to tell them what’s possible,” Finn added.

“When they come in they get to meet all levels of Salesforce staff including the likes of Andy Lawson, SVP and UK Country Leader at Salesforce, to encourage them to believe that they can do it.”

Finn said there is not a shortage of volunteers at Salesforce willing to sign up for opportunities to support people visiting the Salesforce tower or taking part in programmes that the company supports.

“We have had a 85% take up rate for volunteering which has equated to 500,000 hours globally so far this year. Last year in June we celebrated one million hours of volunteering since the programme’s inception which was 15 years ago,” Finn added.

Salesforce employees have the flexibility to decide when, where and for what cause they volunteer. Employees receive seven days of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) per fiscal year a $1,000 Champion Grant to donate to the nonprofit of their choice once they reach seven days of VTO and access to Team Grants to support employee volunteer activities.

“Volunteers offer a range of skills such as interviewing and mentoring or they support not-for-profits who can’t afford an IT department by offering their expertise. There is a retention correlation of best places to work and opportunities to volunteer. Six out of ten millennials say they want to work for an organisation with a purpose and you are 2.3 times more like to retain an employee that feels engaged.”


BT, O2, Vodafone and Ericsson team up to launch ‘Step into STEM’ scheme

Kayleigh Bateman

BT, O2, Vodafone and Ericsson have joined forces to launch a scheme to encourage girls to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Step into STEMThe programme called ‘Step into STEM’ will be working with Girls Talk London, to offer young women advice on how to reach senior business roles.

BT director of field, business and ethernet connections at Openreach Paula Constant said: “This scheme could make a real difference in encouraging girls to apply for jobs that require STEM skills. Research shows that even though girls study the relevant subjects in school, only a minority go on to pursue careers in this area.”

O2 chief operating officer Derek McManus said: “Our research revealed that many girls haven’t yet considered a career in tech or STEM and it’s an issue which is becoming deeply engrained from a young age.

“Far too many young people maintain the belief that these types of careers are most suited to men. Clearly there are some outdated myths that need busting.”

The programme is currently a pilot, with the aim of rolling it out across the UK in the future.

Girls Talk London selected 20 year 12 students last month from four schools in London. The schools are King Solomon Academy, St Michael’s Catholic School, Heathcote School and Our Lady’s Convent School.

The chosen few have been matched with a mentor from the four companies. They each receive one monthly session until October where they learn about their chosen roles and get advice on how to enter them. A week’s work experience at one of the companies in July will also be offered.