29 Nov 16
Corporate

Scottish 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 350 12-13-year-old girls at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh as part of a drive to encourage more girls in Scotland 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 more than 1300 people in Scotland, with 49 apprentices currently going through the company’s four year programme. 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 Scotland 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 Grangemouth High School who created the ‘Bike Buddy’ – a device to help cyclists indicate and manoeuvre safely on the roads. 

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: Grangemouth High School, Glenwood High School, Larbert High School, St. Margaret’s Academy. 

Laura Gallagher, a Science teacher from Grangemouth High School said: “I think it has been absolutely fantastic.  The girls are really inspired by the other women they have heard from today who are in STEM careers.” 

Calum Marshall, faculty head, from Glenwood High School said: The girls have been very engaged in the day. They have found it exciting and there has been a bit of a competitive edge.” 

Michael Fagen, Maths teacher, from St. Margaret’s Academy said: “It is great to see the pupils so enthused and I think some who not have been looking to go down the route of engineering would now consider it.” 

Ashifa Naseer, Principal Teacher in Science, from Larbert High School said: “It is a very inspiring event and it led the girls to be very innovative. I think this will definitely encourage more girls into taking STEM subjects.” 

Linda Whitla, EDF Energy’s Head of HR for Nuclear Operations : “As a large innovative company, we rely on the talents of people skilled in engineering, maths and science subjects.  

“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 last to take place as part of this year’s programme Bristol, Ipswich and Croydon. 

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.

For more information contact:

Fiona McCall
External Communications Manager (Scotland)
01355 846281
07813 232347
Fiona.McCall@edf-energy.com

Notes to editors

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

Participating schools:

Grangemouth High School

Larbert High School

St Margaret’s Academy

Glenwood High School

Inveralmond Community High School

Deans Community High School

Denny High School

Tynecastle High School

Braes High School

North Berwick High School

Craigmount High School 

Biggar High School

Jedborough Grammar School

Balwearie High School

Lornshill Academy 

[1] Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics, August 2016

[1] This year’s female intake was 22% against a national average for engineering apprentices of just 3.4%.

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.