Helping girls to thrive in STEM

  • Nell Osborne
  • Mar 28 2024

Nell Osborne from WISE explains the importance of STEM Skills and gender diversity, and why same gender STEM role models can have such a positive impact on whether girls decide to pursue STEM education or not.


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It’s 1984 and the music scene is ablaze with Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, challenging gender norms with their unapologetic attitudes. Meanwhile, Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya etches her name in history as the first woman to perform a spacewalk. 

But, for all the new strides that women in the UK were making at that time, only 7% of graduate engineers were women (and only 3% of all professional engineers). The Finniston Report publicly highlighted this massive gender disparity, and the prevalence of stereotypes that dissuade women from pursuing science and maths. In response, the Women into Science and Engineering Campaign (WISE) was born. 

Girls Just Wanna (Work in STEM)

Fast forward to today, WISE champions gender parity in the STEM industry. Over a million women now thrive in Core-STEM occupations in the UK, with 22% of engineering and tech graduates being women. What’s more, the STEM sector continues to grow, outpacing other workforces.

The Need for STEM Skills & Gender Diversity 

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the significance of STEM, revealing a shortage of people with necessary skills. It also highlighted the importance of nurturing innovation and adaptability in how we work.

Gender diversity fuels innovation. Research shows that teams which include a range of genders make better decisions. Companies with a higher ratio of women to men make smarter decisions, have more effective problem-solving skills, enhanced innovation, and ultimately, they develop more relevant products.

We can’t make progress if we aren’t encouraging more girls and women into the STEM sector. To this end, Planet Possibility are inviting science teachers from any school to attend their fully funded online workshops on gender representation and unconscious bias in physics. Join to learn more about how unconscious bias and stereotypes are still blocking girls from pursuing physics-based careers and create an action plan to help end the gender gap in your classroom.

From Classrooms to Boardrooms: Bridging the Gap

In 2023, 90% of female GCSE entrants received A*-C grades in Physics – with 40.6% of female entrants awarded A-A*.

Girls are excelling at Core-STEM subjects at GCSE level, but, despite this, many don’t go on to study those subjects at A-Level. The consequence is that girls are still dramatically under-represented later down the line in STEM careers. For example, in 2023, 36,273 girls were awarded a grade of 7/A or higher for GCSE Physics. If just half of these girls took Physics at A Level, it would double the total number of girls taking the subject.

The Impact of Role Models

Enter My Skills My Life – an outreach program by WISE that introduces thousands of real women excelling in STEM. This program, featuring a unique personality test, helps girls identify their strengths and values, paving the way for a STEM journey tailored to their personalities. My Skills My Life provides visibility to diverse role models, guiding girls based on shared personality traits and career pathways. Find out if you’re an ‘Innovator’, an ‘Investigator’, an ‘Explorer’?

From research, we know that having same gender STEM role models has an oversized positive impact on whether girls pursue STEM education or not. In one study, the number of girls interested in STEM across Europe almost doubles when they have a role model to inspire them. 

Join the My Skills My Life Movement

WISE offers training in the My Skills My Life approach, allowing organisations to directly engage with the next generation of STEM talent. By delivering this program, you open eyes and minds to unexplored opportunities, ensuring that aspiring minds can aspire to careers they know exist.

Join the My Skills My Life movement and contribute to building a brighter, more inclusive future in STEM. Get in touch to learn more about how your organisation can make a meaningful impact on the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.