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New partnership promotes STEM to girls on International Women’s Day

By EDF | Posted March 08, 2017

A charitable organisation that aims to inspire girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has marked International Women’s Day with an event in Edinburgh.


Around 130 girls from schools in the Edinburgh and Midlothian areas gathered at Gogarburn on 8 March for the first SmartSTEMs event of the year.


The Paisley-based organisation recently announced a new partnership with EDF Energy which will help them reach more than 2,500 girls across Scotland over the next few months.


The headline sponsorship is part of EDF Energy’s wider commitment to education which includes its ‘Pretty Curious’ programme; a drive to change the perception of STEM subjects and help address the lack of women entering the industry.


The girls, all from Primary 7, spent the day listening to speakers and getting involved in hands-on STEM activities.


Yasmeen Hussain from University of the West of Scotland spoke to the girls and took them through her journey as a woman in STEM. Eight businesses exhibited at the event. Each business is encouraged to connect with five new schools with a view to providing speakers and ongoing support for STEM activities at the schools.


EDF Energy’s stand saw the girls sample a virtual-reality film that immersed them in the worlds of three successful women working STEM-related industries. Viewers were transported to EDF Energy’s offshore wind farm in Teesside with renewable energy research engineer Claire Canning, to the top of the Shard with structural engineer Roma Agrawal and to an East London shared workspace where computer coder Claire Mitchell introduced the girls to the community of coders that sit behind technology experienced daily.


SmartSTEMsevents target girls aged 10 to 14 and aims to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to study STEM subjects at school.


EDF Energy’s Scottish Business Director, Paul Winkle, said: “At the moment only one in five people working in core STEM industries in Scotland is a woman.  We are committed to changing that which is why I am delighted to be able to announce this new partnership on International Women’s Day. The SmartSTEMs ethos is very much in line with ours and I hope the events over the next few months will inspire hundreds more girls to consider pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or maths.”


Stuart Macdonald from SmartSTEMs said: “It’s fantastic to have the support from EDF to allow SmartSTEMs to scale up our activation across Scotland, ensuring as many young people as possible are given the opportunity to learn and be inspired about a future in STEM industries.”


Kimberley Hughes from Cuiken Primary said: “Today is a fantastic opportunity for the girls to see what careers there are with science based subjects. We already run a Code Club at school and the girls were really excited to come along today.”


For more information contact:

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

Notes to editors


  1. The schools attending the event at RBS on 8 March were: Cuiken Primary (Penicuik), Roseburn Primary, Flora Stevenson Primary, CarrickKnowe Primary and St Mary’s Primary (all Edinburgh).
  2. There are seven SmartSTEMs events currently planned for this year at venues across Scotland, including RBS, Ayrshire College, the University of the West of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University.
  3. 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. Through its Better Energy Ambitions, EDF Energy has developed comprehensive environmental and social programmes which have been recognised by a wide range of organisations. EDF Energy also runs the Pretty Curious programme which encourages girls to consider STEM subjects and careers. At the end of 2016 we welcomed more than 350 girls to a series of hands-on workshops in Edinburgh where they were able to hear from female STEM role models and get creative with technology.  EDF Energy is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. Find out more about the UK's energy challenges and what we're doing to help us achieve Net Zero Britain. 
  4. 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. Visit the EDF Energy Pretty Curious pages to find out more. 
  5. 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. 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. Outreach is delivered in schools & clubs affording STEM activities locally & ongoing. Visit Smart STEMS to find out more. 

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.

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