STEM – Science Technology Engineering Mathematics

WISE: Women Into Science and Engineering – an initiative started in the 1980s to try to redress the gender imbalance in the engineering profession.

STEM: a more recent government initiative to increase the number of young people choosing a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

At present there are not enough young people entering STEM-based careers, especially engineering. It is estimated that by 2026 there will be a huge shortage of UK scientists and engineers.

What’s more, there is still an enormous gender gap in STEM, with far too few women in the scientific professions. This is no secret! Regrettably it is a fact that for some reason, girls still think science and engineering to be ‘man things’ – and not for them.

Soroptimist International is committed to women’s education and empowerment. Therefore when the (then) Federation President: Dr Margaret Emsley, a structural and civil engineer, challenged clubs to tackle the STEM imbalance, Crosby’s Soroptimists decided to take action.

Spearheaded by Annette Hughes (also an engineer and, at the time, the club’s President Elect), Crosby’s Soroptimists held their first STEM conference in 2016 for girls aged 13-16. Five local schools took the opportunity to send students.

The main aim of the conference was to encourage girls to consider the sciences for GCSE, A-Level and in higher education. Career options in the area of STEM best suited to their interests and aptitudes would then be open to them.

Young women scientists and engineers each spoke about their work and how they had made career choices. The event enabled the girls to find out more about aerospace, construction, mechanical engineering, microbiology, biomedical science, optics and optometry.

A scientifically-based ‘activity centre’ challenged the girls to have fun with Lego construction, aerodynamic paper planes, photochromic lenses and a host of other materials.

Best of all, the speakers dispelled the myth that STEM careers are only for boys.