Imperial College London has joined a campaign led by the Chancellor to boost participation in technology and engineering careers among women.
The ‘Your Life’ initiative brings together government, business, professional bodies and leading educational institutions who are all working to improve opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
We are taking real and lasting action to promote gender equality.
– Professor Debra Humphris
Vice Provost (Education)
The scheme was launched by the Chancellor George Osborne this morning at the Science Museum.
As part of the campaign Imperial has pledged to:
- Extend its outreach work into primary schools throughout the country. Imperial is working with digital education company Twig World on initiatives which will support primary school teachers to engage children in science. These include an international conference on the teaching of science and a programme of online professional development courses which will launch in autumn 2014.
- Include a greater element of creative design in Engineering courses starting in 2015 – an approach which has been shown to attract more female applicants. Female students are underrepresented on Engineering undergraduate degrees. By way of contrast, female students make up 50% of the cohort on Imperial's MSc in Industrial Design Engineering run jointly with the Royal College of Art. Elements of this design focused curriculum will be introduced across the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial.
- Develop and promote the careers of women in technology and engineering through inspirational role models for young people. Imperial’s Department of Physics is a pioneer in promoting female role models – from postgraduate students to eminent professors – in its schools outreach work. For example, its ‘Women in Space Science, Technology and Engineering’ event targets traditionally underrepresented students who are considering or studying A-level Physics. Similar initiatives will be rolled out by other departments.
- Improve and increase Imperial’s recognition for promoting gender equality through Athena SWAN Charter awards, having already received 11 departmental awards (ranging from Bronze to Gold) and an institution-wide silver award. Imperial’s Department of Chemistry recently became the first department in the College, and one of a handful in the UK, to receive an Athena SWAN Gold Award in recognition of its outstanding work to recruit, retain and promote women. The College has since set a target for all departments to engage with Athena SWAN and seek awards at the highest level.
Professor Debra Humphris, Vice Provost (Education) at Imperial College London, said: “We want to help shatter myths and change perceptions about women in STEM. It’s fantastic to get the Chancellor's backing for these goals.
“Imperial is not just another name on the list of ‘Your Life’ backers; we are taking real and lasting action to improve opportunities and promote gender equality. That’s why we’ve made four concrete pledges today.
“Meeting this challenge will not be easy. It will require a concerted effort throughout the College. But it will be worth it. Creating an environment where women enjoy greater opportunities in engineering and technology is good for all of us, as educators, researchers or beneficiaries of this work.”
As part of its commitment to improving opportunities for women in science, the government is aspiring to:
- Double the number of women studying engineering and technology undergraduate degrees by 2030.
- Boost the number of women pursuing careers in engineering and technology.
- Increase the number of young people studying maths and physics at 18.
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock MP said: “There has never been a greater focus from government on inspiring people, especially women and girls, to take up science, technology, engineering and maths. STEM disciplines are the heartbeat of the modern world. From agriculture to aviation, the analytical and problem-solving skills they develop are more valuable than ever in a fast-changing, global economy."
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Communications and Public Affairs
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