7 Jun 17

Glasgow STEM events aim to close gender gap

EDF Energy supports two Glasgow STEM events this week reaching more than 750 girls. Support is part of wider commitment to help close gender gap in science and tech jobs in Scotland.

EDF Energy is continuing its drive to encourage more young women in Scotland to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The company has teamed up with the charitable organisation SmartSTEMs and two of Glasgow’s leading universities, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and the University of Strathclyde, to offer more than 750 girls across the city the chance to learn about the benefits of STEM careers.

There are eight events planned by SmartSTEMs and EDF Energy across the year, which will reach more than 2,500 girls. These include events at GCU on 6 June and Strathclyde University on 7 June. During each session the girls, aged 10-14, will hear from women who work in STEM about their journeys before they taking part in a series of hands-on workshops.

The partnership is part of EDF Energy’s wider commitment to education that includes the ‘Pretty Curious’ programme, which is designed to inspire more girls to consider science and technology careers. 

As part of this programme, EDF Energy commissioned The ‘Jobs of the Future’* research report, which was conducted by The Social Market Foundation. This research shows that even though science and tech jobs will grow twice as fast as other occupations, the number of women working in core STEM industries in Scotland is only one in five –revealing a worrying gender gap.**

This gender gap is UK wide. In 2016, there were an estimated 462,000 women working in science, research, engineering and technology jobs. With gender parity, that number would be 1.2 million – meaning there's a gender gap of 730,000.*

Education in STEM subjects is vital to ensure Scotland's continuing success on the world stage. The Scottish Government is working with schools to develop methods to overcome gender stereotyping, such as the Improving Gender Balance project, supported by Education Scotland and funded by Skills Development Scotland.

Natasha May, engineer at EDF Energy said, “Since I became an engineer I’ve seen the number of women entering the industry increase, but there are still too few. Right now, only one in five people working in core STEM industries in Scotland is a woman.

“I’m delighted that EDF Energy is supporting these events. We want to inspire girls to imagine a future where they use STEM subjects to make a difference in the world.

“Giving them the chance to hear from women in the industry and to find out about the range of careers they could enter can do just that.”

Stuart Macdonald from SmartSTEMs said: “We are delighted to pull together many wonderful industry partners and scores of generous volunteers to deliver this great event for these young girls.  Inclusion is a key driver for our efforts: making sure we have all parts of our society engaged in STEM will mean a future where we have the most diverse and therefore best performing teams in the world; creating ever new Intellectual Property and solving societal problems through STEM.”

GCU’s Dr Tuleen Boutaleb, Telecommunications and Electronics senior lecturer, said: “Women uptake of engineering and computing programmes remains low and it is events such as SmartSTEMs that aim to improve understanding of the relevance of STEM to future careers for women. SmartSTEMs is an exciting and fun event for everyone involved from school pupils to lecturers, students, technicians and industry. That is why GCU was the first university in Scotland to support it and the fact we’ll have more than 500 pupils here this year is fantastic. The event promotes STEM to pupils from Primary 6 to Secondary 2: a crucial period before subject selection.”

Dr Bernadette Sanderson manages the higher education access service, FOCUS West which is supporting the Strathclyde event, she said: "FOCUS West is passionate about developing equity of access to Higher Education, and wish to send a message to girls everywhere that the doors of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths are open to them and that they should follow their dreams."

Girls at the SmartSTEMs sessions were also able to experience a virtual reality film that immersed them in the worlds of three successful women working in STEM-related industries. EDF Energy’s Virtual Reality film can be viewed here.

To find out more about the Pretty Curious programme and the research, visit edfenergy.com/prettycurious.

The full Jobs of the Future report can be found here

For more information contact:

Fiona McCall
External Communications Manager (Scotland)
01355 846281
07813 232347

Notes to editors

* The ‘Jobs of the Future’ report uses analysis of Government data and examines trends in the growth of science, research, engineering and technology jobs.  It shows their respective growth and in which region and industry this growth will take place.

**1 in 5 people working in core STEM: This statistic is calculated using Standard Occupational Classification data produced by the Office of National Statistics. There is no single agreed method of defining which occupations should be classed as STEM/Non STEM (UKCES*, 2013). Furthermore, UKCES (2013) differentiate occupations as Medical and core STEM, a distinction also recognised and adopted by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). As a business in the energy sector, it is these ‘core’ occupations that we can have the greatest impact on with our campaigns and initiatives and have chosen to use the statistics compiled by WISE.

About the Pretty Curious programme
Pretty Curious is a long-term programme from EDF Energy to address the critical under-representation of women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). It aims to demonstrate the breadth of career opportunities available through pursuing science-based subjects at school and provides teenage girls with hands-on STEM experiences at workshops and events. At the end of 2016, 350 girls attended a series of hands-on workshops in Edinburgh where they were able to hear from female STEM role models and get creative with technology.

The Pretty Curious programme is one of many initiatives EDF Energy runs to encourage young people into STEM and also support women in its business. Over 900 male and female employees are part of EDF Energy’s Women’s Network, which runs mentoring schemes, a development programme and a variety of events aimed at supporting women. Its award-winning education programme, The Pod, reaches over 60% of UK schools.

EDF Energy is a Times Top 50 Employer for Women, a founding member of the POWERful Women initiative and is the only energy company to have achieved the National Equality Standard, the UK’s most comprehensive assessment of diversity and inclusion in business. For more information, please visit the EDF Energy Pretty Curious website: www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious

About EDF Energy

EDF Energy is Scotland’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, operating Hunterston B in North Ayrshire, Torness in East Lothian and, through our joint venture EDF Energy Renewables, seven windfarms across Scotland. Together these assets generate enough electricity to power almost 4 million homes and employ more than 1,300 people in Scotland. The company supplies 98 per cent of public sector bodies in Scotland after being awarded the country’s largest electricity supply contract by annual volume from April 2013. EDF Energy has also more than 200,000 customer accounts in Scotland and has launched its own innovation accelerator, Blue Lab, which focuses on making customers’ lives easier.

About SmartSTEMS

SmartSTEMs is the glue between Tertiary Education, Industry and Schools. We exist to provide equity of opportunity to young people into STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) with particular focus on the gender gap.

Our model is scalable and replicable and delivered through our intertwined initiatives of hub events and outreach: 1) Hub Events are held in tertiary education establishments, by territory, where we convene industry and schools to apply the SmartSTEMs glue and get the good people of Scotland connected and collaborating to best effect. 2) Outreach is delivered in Schools & Clubsaffording STEM activities locally & ongoing.

About the Social Market Foundation

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) is a non-partisan think tank. We believe that fair markets, complemented by open public services, increase prosperity and help people to live well. We conduct research and run events looking at a wide range of economic and social policy areas, focusing on economic prosperity, public services and consumer markets. The SMF is resolutely independent, and the range of backgrounds and opinions among our staff, trustees and advisory board reflects this.

About FOCUS West

Based in Glasgow, FOCUS West works in 37 schools in the west of Scotland and is funded by the Scottish Funding Council. FOCUS West is the largest division in Scotland of the national Schools for Higher Education Programme. Its job is to move more pupils into Higher Education, whether this is direct to university, or going to college first to study for a Higher National Qualification. It works on behalf of all universities and colleges in the west of Scotland and its work is therefore not connected to one university or one college. This means that it has a helpful, balanced overview of all suitable courses, not just those that are offered by one particular institution.


EDF Energy in Scotland

In Scotland EDF Energy operates Hunterston B in North Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian which employ over 1,000 staff and around 500 contracting partners across the two power stations. EDF Energy employs a further 200 office based staff in East Kilbride.  As well as generating enough power to serve some 4 million homes the company also provides gas and electricity to over 80,000 Scottish customers with around half of those opting for one of the company’s Blue+ products which are backed by low-carbon generation. We operate two windfarms in the Scottish Borders and make sure we buy enough electricity generated from a low-carbon nuclear source to match every unit of electricity we estimate our Blue customers use. EDF Energy is proud to power up some of the largest organisations in the UK, including supplying almost all public sector bodies in Scotland with after being awarded Scotland’s largest electricity supply contract by annual volume from April 2013. Following a landmark agreement with Network Rail the company also provides nuclear-backed Blue energy to power up the UKs electric rail network, covering most of the south east of England and the main lines from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as the Merseyrail network around Liverpool and the Glasgow suburban network.