12 Dec 17

Perthshire girls get smart about STEM

 EDF Energy has teamed up with charitable organisation, SmartSTEMs, and Perth College UHI to inspire more girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). 

More than 150 S1 and S2 girls from across Perthshire gathered (Tuesday 12 December) at the college to learn about the benefits of careers in STEM. 

Research shows that that science and tech jobs will grow twice as fast as other occupations between now and 2023[1] but the number of women currently working in core STEM industries in Scotland is just one in four. 

The girls heard from Tracy Scott from Seric Systems Limited and Lynsey Young from the Royal Navy about their journeys as women in STEM before they had the chance to get hands-on and take part in STEM workshops. The workshops included Networks Galore! which helped them understand networks; from computers and social through to transport and movie stars as well as Think Like a Computer which taught the girls the basics of building a computer.  

SmartSTEMs hub events target girls aged 10 to 14 and aim to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to study STEM subjects at school. 

Stuart Macdonald, Founder of 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 boys girls. Proud to be playing our part in making Scotland a great place to discover and pursue STEM careers.” 

SmartSTEMs’ partnership with Scotland’s largest producer of low carbon electricity, EDF Energy, has helped them reach more than 2,000 girls through their hub events across Scotland this year. 

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.

 EDF Energy’s Scottish Business Director, Paul Winkle, said: “At the moment only one in four people working in core STEM industries in Scotland is a woman. Encouraging girls to study subjects that will open up a career in these areas is critical to filling the future skills gap. We are delighted to be supporting an organisation which is committed to that and I hope this event will inspire more girls to consider pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or maths.”

 Catherine Etri, Sector Development Director: Business, Management, Computing and Leisure at Perth College UHI said: “Computing is for everyone and it is all around us, but when it comes to employment or education, the question is: where are all the girls?  Females are enthusiastic users of technology, but they are considerably underrepresented in its creation.  From high school onwards, there is a real lack of female participation in this significant and rapidly expanding area.  There are serious skills gaps across Scotland and the UK, if we don’t seek to address these, there will be serious consequences for our involvement in the development of technical innovation. This event at Perth College UHI will hopefully help address this issue.”

[1] The Jobs of the Future research by the Social Market Foundation, commissioned for EDF Energy’s Pretty Curious campaign

For more information contact:

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

Notes to editors

Notes to editors: 

  1. The schools attending the event at Perth College UHI’s campus were:

    Pitlochry High School

    Crieff High School

    Kinross High School

    St John's RC Academy, Perth

    Perth Grammar School

    Perth Academy

  2. There are eight SmartSTEMs events currently planned for this year at venues across Scotland.Community works are ongoing across Scotland.
  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.
  4. Pretty Curious: The EDF Energy Pretty Curious programme launched in 2015 to address the critical under-representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related careers, both now and in the future. Just one in four people working in core STEM roles are women[1]. Over half a million job openings in science, research, engineering and technology will need to be filled over the next six years, to replace growing number of retiring workers[2]. We want to open girls’ eyes along with their parents and teachers, to the myriad of jobs available and empower them to see themselves succeeding in STEM careers. With three years’ experience, we know we need to find new ways of having conversations about STEM with parents and teens, which is why this year we have partnered with Star Wars: The Last Jedi to highlight the positive STEM role models in the new movie. The appeal of Star Wars: The Last Jedi crosses both gender and generations and we believe that through this partnership we can capture the attention of parents and teens using it as a platform to inspire and bust outdated myths about what ‘science’ roles look like.
  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 (we run both All-Girl and Co-Ed events). 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. SmartSTEMs collaborate widely to deliver maximum impact.For more information visit: http://www.smartstems.org/
  6. Perth College UHI: Perth College UHI is a further and higher education institution with a main campus in Perth city and four further outreach Learning Centres across Perth and Kinross.  One of 13 colleges which make up the University of the Highlands and Islands, courses range from vocational, access and industry courses to post graduate degrees. 

[1] WISE (October 2017) – Women in the STEM Workforce 2017

[2] The Jobs of the Future research by the Social Market Foundation, commissioned for EDF Energy’s Pretty Curious campaign

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.