A lot of girls are interested in computers and technology when they’re young. But stereotypes about IT being ‘just for boys’ often stop them from taking that interest further. Thankfully, things are changing. One of the ways we’re making this happen is by sponsoring various education initiatives to show girls career paths they might not have thought about before.
What’s the scheme about?
For the last two years, as part of science, technology, engineering and maths educational investment programme, we’ve been sponsoring a very special project at Morecambe High School - an IT group for girls. Started by a teacher, we’re helping the IT group pay for equipment like LEGO robot kits.
How does it work?
With the help of their teachers, the girls in the group meet once a week to learn how to code and build robots. So far some of their projects include building an app that means school staff can access to students’ medical details using QR codes. Once a year, the group goes to our very own Heysham power station to show off their work, tour the site and hear from some of the women working at the station about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. We also encourage them to apply for apprenticeships and graduate schemes.
Founder of the project, Morecambe High School computing teacher Theresa Russell says:
“The project has been fantastic for the girls. Every year we see the group go from strength to strength, as they develop their skills and new girls join.
“I hope that it encourages them to follow their interest in the future, and that they’ll continue to study subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths ... and get a job one day in these areas.”
Is it getting results?
Access to teaching tools and the opportunity to try out new technology skills in a relaxed learning environment means that some of the girls at Morecambe High School are now thinking about futures in computing. For example, Mia Hargreaves joined the group in year 8 after her teacher suggested she might enjoy it. Since then, she and her friends have all earned themselves a Silver Crest Award for their programming. Mia says:
“I really enjoy the social aspects of the group. It isn't the stereotypical code, code, code. My friends and I have taken part in lots of workshops and competitions, and we even won the project category in the Lego First League. I’ve also been to robotic workshops with the IT group at Manchester University to improve our coding skills.
“If it wasn't for the IT group, I would have completely crossed out engineering as an option. Now I’m looking at focusing my studies on a career in bioengineering.”
When 11 girls from the group, aged 14 to 16, visited Heysham to show off their new coding and robotics skills last July, Suzanne Porter, who works at the site, was impressed by their confidence.
“It’s fantastic to see that our support has allowed these girls to get so much experience and to learn new skills. Hopefully they’ll think about coming to work with us one day.”