Local schoolgirls invent gadgets of the future at workshop to inspire more women into science
Today, EDF Energy hosted the first of four science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workshops for more than 300 12-13-year-old girls at the Old Down Country Park, as part of a drive to encourage more girls in the south west to pursue careers in STEM.
The pace of digital innovation and scale of UK infrastructure investment means that there are huge opportunities for careers in STEM subjects. However, just one in seven people working in STEM today in the UK is a woman[i] and the number of young women studying these subjects at further education remains consistently below boys.
EDF Energy employs 4,000 people in the south west, with over 1,000 apprenticeships to be created to work on Hinkley Point C during its construction. The company also invests heavily in research and development and digital innovation across the UK in homes, businesses and electricity generation. With a significant need for skills over the coming years, the company is aiming to increase its proportion of women STEM apprentices and graduates to 30% of new starters in 2018[ii]. This compares to a national average for engineering apprentices of just 3.4%.
At the event, girls from schools across the Bristol region undertook hands-on STEM challenges using electronics kits and virtual reality technology, as well as learning more about the technology behind social media and ‘connected home’ devices.
The event finished with teams competing to invent the best gadgets that would make a positive difference to their world. The winning team were from Castle School, Taunton who created an amphibious delivery vehicle called Tootinator 2000, with capabilities to transport goods both on land and at sea.
Teams of girls were supported by EDF Energy employees and were given the opportunity to speak to inspirational women working in STEM careers. Local schools to attend the event included: The Dean Academy, Lydney; Broadlands Academy, Keynsham; Castle School, Taunton; Marlwood School, Alveston, Bristol.
Teacher Amelia Bow - Marlwood School, Alveston said “It’s amazing and it’s helping to raise the aspiration of girls who might never have thought about science in a big way. It’s a real shame something like this isn’t in the curriculum for schools, its fab.”
Maths teacher Natasha Cook - Dean Academy, Lydney commented “The girls are really enjoying it and were excited when they got here and saw the activities. Many girls are quite negative about STEM so this is definitely helping to get them more motivated about STEM.”
Teacher Katie Luckes - Castle School, Taunton said “It’s fantastic and the girls were so excited when they got here and saw everything. I wish I had something like this when I was at school, as it really will encourage them to think more about STEM.“
Theresa Bryant, a recruitment specialist in Nuclear New Build at EDF Energy, said: “As a large innovative company, we rely on the talents of people skilled in engineering, maths and science subjects. The opportunities are huge and here in the south west many of them will be at the new Hinkley Point C power station which will generate enough low carbon electricity to meet seven per cent of the UK’s needs.
“The number of girls taking these subjects has remained consistently below the level of boys. This means the risk of not being able to recruit people with the skills required, and from a diverse talent pool, is increasing.
"There is great opportunity for girls to enter into exciting and rewarding careers in STEM. We hope as a result of our workshops, we will have opened girls’ eyes to the breadth of jobs available and empowered them to believe that they do have the skills and attributes needed to succeed in STEM.”
Today’s event is part of EDF Energy’s Pretty Curious programme which aims to inspire young girls to consider science-based careers and help them to visualise themselves working in these jobs in the future. This event was the first to take place as part of this year’s programme ahead of additional sessions in Ipswich, Croydon and Edinburgh.
For anyone unable to attend the sessions, EDF Energy runs a series of ‘workshop in a box’ sessions across the country both in schools and at its visitor centres. The company also runs its ‘Women into Construction and Engineering’ project, as part of its Inspire programme, in partnership with Bridgewater College, where schoolgirls can gain first-hand experience of what working in construction and engineering is like.
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.
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 the Inspire Education Programme
The Inspire programme aims to help students understand the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and prepare them to embrace the career opportunities that the construction (and eventual operation) of Hinkley Point C will bring.
In Somerset, EDF Energy’s Inspire Education Programme has had over 110,000 student interactions in over 200 Education institutions across the south west since it began.
[ii] This year’s female intake was 22% against a national average for engineering apprentices of just 3.4%.
For more information contact:EDF Energy Media
Media Relations Team
EDF Energy in the South West
In the South West EDF Energy employs around 4,000 people across three key sites; at Hinkley Point in Somerset, at Barnwood, near Gloucester, and at Exeter. We operate Hinkley Point B power station, which employs around 550 staff and 220 contract partners. A new nuclear power station, capable of supplying around 6 million homes, is under construction at Hinkley Point. We have an operational support centre at Barnwood, while Exeter is home to one of EDF Energy’s three UK-based call centres. As well as currently generating enough power for some 1.5 million homes in this region, EDF Energy also provides gas and electricity to 480,000 customers with over 30% of those opting for one of the company’s Blue+ products backed by low-carbon generation. We 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 some of the largest companies in the UK, including sites for the Ministry of Defence, Tesco Stores Limited, Morrisons and Everything Everywhere, right here in the South West.