165 girls aged between thirteen and fifteen from five local secondary schools recently attended an inspirational conference, at the Village Hotel Club, which focused on Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics career pathways.
The event was funded by philanthropic project, The Community Matters Partnership (CMPP) a collaboration of local private and public sector businesses and organisations working together for the community.
The conference was paid for via a grant from the Youth Aspiration Fund (YAF) which encourages applications for projects intending to raise aspirations and encourage progression in young people.
Speaking on behalf of CMPP, Andrew Lloyd, Chair of the Steering Group, said: "Companies of the CMPP spend a year raising funds for the YAF before inviting people and projects to apply for a grant. We want to find ways to open up opportunities for young people to be inspired."
Engineering company Fluor, a partner of CMPP, also contributed extra to cover the costs of the schools coaches and the Village Hotel Club kindly gave the venue at no cost.
The importance of such an event is well-documented. Here in the UK we have a serious shortage of engineers. According to the Wise campaign, the UK needs to produce 100,000 new graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics every year until 2020 just to maintain the current employment numbers. Staggeringly at present only 6% of the STEM workforce in the UK are females.
Speaking about the event, Jane Sheridan from Education Business Consultancy who organised the event said: “The STEM conference did an outstanding job or breaking down some of the myths and stereotypes that surround a traditionally male dominated world. In fact, it didn’t just break down barriers it really gave an exciting insight into the types of careers with the STEM industry available, enabling each individual to look at pathways to some really exhilarating careers.”
The STEM conference included a number of stimulating hands-on activities provided by local businesses BAE systems, FAST museum, Farnborough College of Technology, Zurich and Red Hat as well as The Society for Radiological Protection and the Canadian Pacific Project. These incorporated a robotics and submarine workshop, both of which were thoroughly fascinating and offer female engineers exciting career potential!
Local company Fluor, who are based on the Farnborough Business Park, also presented all 165 girls with an engineering challenge, to build a bridge simply using office materials - a fun team building exercise which got the girls thinking about engineering challenges.
Alongside the hands on activities, the participants also had the opportunity to network, talk and discuss careers in the field with female ambassadors from the industry.
Female engineer from the Canadian Pacific Project spoke to the girls about restoration of steam train, recently brought by the Mid Hants Railway, Dr Becky Peacock said: “It was great that we got to talk to all the girls. It was really interesting listening to what they thought someone in a STEM career looked like."
Those attending the event were thoroughly inspired as this feedback emphasises:
“I hadn’t realised that science is in just about everything.”
“Such a motivational and inspiring day.”
“Today has opened my eyes to a world of opportunity that I had no idea even existed!"