Yesterday was Women in Science Day. Did you know? And what did you do to celebrate it?
The UN held a conference in New York to mark the occasion and you can see more about this at http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/. In the run up to International Women's day, we should look at the achievements of women in science and in particular the women in our industry. If we do, it will be a wake up to how there is still a gender imbalance and how much there still is to do to attract more women into science.
Celebrating Women in STEM is something that in the UK, we are only beginning to do. Numerous campaigns such as 9% is not enough have entered the realm of social media and gained some traction but what are we really doing to encourage the next generation of scientists, of medical professionals and of course, vital to our industry of engineers? With 2018 being the year of Engineering, organisations such as WISE are working hard to encourage more women and girls into STEM subjects. Their mission is "Gender parity in the UK's scientific, technology and engineering workforce - from classroom to boardroom." But an important question is, what is the construction industry doing to address the imbalance and attract more women? And what is it doing to address the skills gap?
Alison Watson of Class of Your Own was recently awarded an MBE for services to education. As one of the founding members of this programme, Alison, a former architect, launched DEC into schools allowing students to take qualifications in Design Engineering and Construction. She has harnessed the essence of where we are going wrong when attracting GenZ to our industry and is successfully beginning to correct it.
My previous research showed that one of the main reasons current school age children both male and female were not choosing construction was not a lack of interest in STEM subjects but a lack of understanding and as a consequence, interest in a role in this field. They quickly dismissed it as boring amongst other things. DEC however, is inspiring students to learn about these subjects and also equipping teachers with the knowledge to recommend the industry as a first choice rather than a last resort. This is important as many of the students I spoke to were taking 2 or more STEM subjects at A level and all were taking some form of science at GCSE.
If we inform and inspire students at the right time they can make the right decisions to continue their education and include STEM subjects which are vital to close the skills gap that is ever apparent within the Built Environment. This needs to be regarding a future not only in science but in areas of the Built Environment such as engineering, surveying and electrical and mechanical roles to name a few.
For more information on DEC follow @ClassOfYourOwn on Twitter or their website designengineerconstruct.com. You can also get more information on WISE at wisecampaign.org.uk or on twitter @thewisecampaign