Last week at Science Gallery, a series of events explored gender inequality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. TWIST-On was part of the Framework Programme 7 and organised by TWIST (Towards Women in Science & Technology). It brought together people from science museums, universities, schools, government, media, and science clubs; all with a focus of attracting more girls and young women to careers in STEM.
The TWIST organisers noticed some key things at the event:
- They noticed that there is a great deal of interest in this area.
- They felt that all participants (from companies, science museums, universities, schools, government, media and others) realised the importance of putting gender on their agenda when designing their programmes.
- They realised that approaches need to be specific and targeted. For example, different approaches are required for primary schools and secondary schools, students and teachers.
- A cohesive message that girls can relate to is really important.
- Learning about STEM outside of school can have as much impact as learning about it at school.
- Girls want to relate to the subjects of STEM but also want to relate to the people who do them. They want personal engagement with ‘real life’ scientists, rather than watch videos or read blogs from women scientists online. That personal connection helps girls relate to the career and also gives them an opportunity to ask questions.
The TWIST participants came up with seven targeted messages each with an associated programme to help deliver that message. They presented them in a ‘Dragons' Den’ format to ten teenage girls then voted on the messages based on whether or not it would make them and their female friends more interested in STEM. The winning message was "If you were to work in STEM, you will work with the BEST companies, on the BEST projects and work with the BEST people!". Its aim was to show female students aged 13 to 18 the opportunities that exist in different companies, projects, teams, and organisations around the world. The associated programme was an internship and mentorship programme in a company such as IBM, Intel, Pfizer, EA Games, or Sony. The proposed programme included the production of videos to showcase the work, a week-long STEM camp, and several opportunities to meet and interview staff then communicate the experience online.
Click here to find out more about TWIST.