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WOMEN IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS

Written by: Elmtree Press

Women have played a very small part in creating the world we created. By that I mean the buildings you see, how machinery is constructed, running large businesses, politics and law for example, have largely been the domain of men. Men too, have largely been responsible for the many wars fought over the centuries. But it was the pivotal roles women played in the First World War that ended in 1918 that finally gave them the right to vote and only in 1928 when the Equal Franchise Act was passed did they win the same voting rights as men. To discover more, visit the Museum of London.

During the Second World War both in the Military, and civilian life, women played a major part. They contributed  to  breaking the German's codes at Bletchley Park for example,  but when the War came to an end many found that with men returning from the War their services were no longer required.

The internet has gradually empowered women to challenge sex discrimination through forums and discussions it has helped to break down pre- conceived ideas and over the last ten years that things have truly begun to change.   A major factor for this is for financial reasons.  Mothers now need to continue working after they have had a family but through education they are also not prepared to give up a fulfilling career to be a full time mother.  Gradually opportunities across more and more fields are opening up particularly in new industries such as IT but also in banking, law, design and engineering women are being employed but surpassing their male colleagues in the skills and qualifications they achieve. 

However, to encourage girls to look at a wider career choice, it is important for teachers to inspire young women to look at industries that traditionally were male dominated and equally important for museums and attractions to offer educational visits that relate to encouraging girls to study less traditional subjects.  For example,  very few museums and attractions celebrated International Women’s Day this year which took place on 8th March and it would be great if more were involved.  This year’s theme was  “Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” and Legoland in Manchester was one of the few attractions who recognised the day and its importance, partnering with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to inspire young girls as well as boys to follow their passions.

Widely celebrated for its inclusive approach to educational fun, Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester, hosted a one-off workshop for Kingsway Primary School’s Year 6 class, exploring why only 13% of the UK construction workforce is female and what Balance for Better means to them.

The fun and interactive workshop saw inspirational talks from the NAWIC on what it is like to be a woman working within the construction industry and Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester’s own Master Model Builder, James Windle, on what it means to turn your passion into a career. The class were then invited to ‘build for better’ and create their very own Balance for Better scene, to be featured as part of the attraction’s popular Mini Land. The final scene is made up of 28 individual structures and a double level swimming pool, play centre, library and dream apartments complete with a brilliant roof terrace. 

Speaking on Mini Land’s latest addition, Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester’s own Master Model Builder, James Windle, said: “It has been brilliant to work with Kingsway Primary School on the new feature for Mini Land – the sky has been the limit with their designs!”

Just one school trip like this can inspire a child and change their lives no matter what their gender and if it makes girls look at alternative careers to aim for, then all the better.  More women working in industry will not only start to improve our world, but also the lives of our daughters and show them that anything is possible.  So for your next school trip please add this to your agenda and encourage more museums and attractions to include studies on equal inclusion for both genders.

Here is just a selection of opportunities available for studying less traditional subjects in your area:-

Aerospace Bristol – learn about the history of aviation and engineering with workshops that  have been specifically designed by industry partners to inspire engineers of the future. 

Cadbury World, Birmingham offer a design and technology workshop.  Discuss the different reasons behind the designs of some popular Cadbury chocolate bars and see how the design of the bar is linked to the wrapper and the advert. See real-life Cadbury chocolate moulds used in the Bournville Cadbury factory!

The National Army Museum in Chelsea, is the leading authority on the British Army and its impact on society both past, present and in the future.  As well as history and citizenship studies there are also workshops on science and technology and the importance they play in today’s army.

The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford inspires your p upils to learn about the principles of light and sound and the science behind photography film and television through interactive displays, live shows and a 3D IMAX cinema.

Perhaps one of your pupils will follow in the footsteps of Helen Sharman and become an astronaut after an inspirational visit to the Observatory Science Centre. With over 100 hands on activities amongst the domes and telescoped of a former world famous observatory will inspire your students to realise the sky’s not the limit to career opportunities available!

Recycling Discovery Centre in Liverpool offers the opportunity for your pupils to see state of the art recycling in action and how our actions impact on the planet. Inspire them to look at science and technology in a different way.

The Runway Visitor Centre will show your students what happens behind the scenes of a busy airport and how technology plays an important part in day to day operations.

Winchester Science Centre experience the ultimate SEM school trip guaranteed to spark the curiosity of your pupils and develop their passion and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and maths.

International Women’s Day in Engineering is on June 23rd. For more information log on to WISE the organisation that encourages women to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a profession they are here to help.