Wednesday, 9 March 2016

How The Girl Guides Are Encouraging Girls To Pursue STEM Careers

Andreah Cole - Personal Assistant

WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) is the International Women’s Day charity partner. WAGGGS empowers girls and young women to stand up and speak out on issues affecting them. They provide girls and young women with dynamic, flexible and values-based training in life skills, leadership and citizenship. WAGGGS not only speaks out on behalf of girls and young women to influence people making decisions that improve the lives of girls, but they also empower young women to be advocates.

As a Guide leader I volunteer with girls between 10-14 years old. We cover a wide programme of activities, from adventure sports to performing arts, travel and taking part in community action projects. Our aim is to help girls develop in a safe environment.

The Girls Attitude Survey 2015 reported, “Fewer than one in ten girls aged 7 to 10 would choose a career as an engineer (3 per cent), scientist (6 per cent) or lawyer (6 per cent).” Girlguiding UK is trying to promote girls’ and young women’s interest in male dominated industries. Rolls Royce supported the programme for the science investigator badge as part of their involvement in inspiring and engaging young women in the STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - encouraging their potential as future scientists and engineers. Girlguiding UK encourages girls to believe that they can do anything they put their minds to.

In August 2015, I was part of a Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) project to Malawi. The aim of the 6 year project is to train a team of Malawi Girl Guide Association (MAGGA) members on topics such as leadership, advocacy, first aid and ending violence against women to enable them to lead and develop the organisation to give women more opportunities in Malawi. Equality in Malawi is still a distant dream however, the women we met on our trip were determined to continue the fight. Hopefully some of the skills we taught them and ideas we gave them will enable them to accelerate gender parity for all women in Malawi. 

@wagggs_world @girlguiding #girls can #IWD2016  

Infrastructure and Development needs Women

Genevieve Oller - Senior Marketing Executive

Tuesday, 8 March was International Women’s Day; a day that seeks to recognise and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. Over the past few years there have been a number of initiatives bespoke to the industries that we work in (engineering, infrastructure, construction) that have tried to highlight women’s contribution and, in turn, encourage them to enter these workplaces.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has established The IET Women’s Network, which seeks to “engage with under-represented groups within engineering and technology and support them throughout their career”. They have also introduced the Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards. One of the aims of these awards is to create role models, thereby showing engineering to be a viable career option for the next generation of women entering the workplace. There are a host of other societies and initiatives (Women in Architecture, Women in Transport, Women in Rail, Women in Property, MIPIM Ladies) and awards that seek to highlight and, more importantly, foster women’s contribution.

There is also a very real reason to encourage women to these industries, there are not enough people to build the infrastructure and development projects that London needs;  more people means more money injected into the city (so, it’s win, win!). There are some genuine efforts within major infrastructure projects to employ more female staff. At a recent Temple breakfast briefing, Geoff Loader, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Tideway, discussed the project’s aim to try and get a 50/50 split between men and women on the project. In order to achieve this they have introduced programmes such as Tideway Returner, which offers professionals (predominantly women) who have taken a career break and found it difficult to return to work, a range of internships within Tideway and its delivery partners.

The environmental sector is more fortunate in that for the most part it attracts a more diverse range of people, something I feel we, at Temple, benefit from. Equally, our sister company The Ecology Consultancy, has a high number of female staff. However, what matters here is not numbers but that these are areas of the industry that are seen as viable for women to work in and offer real career prospects. There are certainly efforts to change things within different areas of the industry however, more needs to be done and for some areas change is even more needed than others. I think the education needed here is twofold: firstly, to emphasise the value that women can bring and secondly, position these types of careers for women, showing them how rewarding they can be.

IET kindly allowed us to include their infographic for how women can join the STEM industries;