26 Jul 2018
Only 5.5% of engineering professionals are women
Only 13% of those working in STEM occupations are women
The percentage of girls taking A-Level Physics has stayed at 20% for the last 20 years
Last December, a team of passionate Year 6 pupils from Newham launched a campaign to promote gender equality in their community. The ‘Go Girls’ team, from Sheringham Primary School, felt that too many women were put under pressure by gender stereotypes and as a result were limited in the careers they decided to pursue. They wanted to make this important issue the focus of their City Pitch project and set out to build a project plan.
After successfully presenting their pitch at City Hall, the ‘Go Girls’ team were awarded £3000 funding to launch their project. They decided to spend the funds on events at their school, STEM focused trips and initiatives to encourage girls to try sports often dominated by the boys in their school.
The first part of the ‘Go Girls’ project involved all of Sheringham’s Year 6 girls visiting the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre. Pupils had the exciting opportunity to extract their DNA in a workshop full of interesting facts; did you know that humans share 60-70% of their DNA with a banana?! After the trip, 85% of pupils agreed it had positively changed their attitude towards science and 81% stated that as a result they were more interested in studying science.
As a finale to their City Pitch project, the ‘Go Girls’ team arranged a female-only panel event featuring inspiring women from a range of different professions to speak about their experiences and challenges. Having divided up speaking responsibilities and choosing questions they each wanted to ask , the team couldn’t wait to welcome their guests. Year 6 ‘Go Girl’, Redwana, admitted, “I’m feeling really excited, whenever we usually do a big presentation, I’m a bit nervous, but this time I don’t feel the nerves because I know what I believe in and what I’m saying.”
From lawyers and Savile Row tailors to software developers and data scientists, the panel were able to share some important insights. They acknowledged how they overcame stereotypes and self-doubt to succeed in their field:
“Believing in myself was one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome.”
“My mum always said you shouldn’t do that – that’s for the boys! I suppose I just didn’t take her seriously and wanted to prove her wrong.”
As each of the girls head off to secondary school in September, we want to wish them the best of luck and hope they continue to fight for equality and for their voices to be heard. In the words of Hilary Clinton:
“Never doubt that you are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every opportunity in the world and every chance to pursue your own dreams.”