Posted: Wed 20th Apr 2016

Lewis Girls Tackles Gender Gap In Engineering /
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 20th, 2016

Engineering is rapidly expanding in today’s era of modern technology, yet it is a field where women are under-represented. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

With just 6% of UK engineers being female, the University of South Wales (USW) set Lewis Girls Comprehensive School the task to provide a lesson which encourages girls into the field of engineering. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The task, which is part of 2015 / 2016 Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW), is designed to eradicate the stigma attached to engineering and create an interactive and interesting project about the subject, which could be taught by teachers in the future. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

EESW is an educational charity which runs throughout Wales to inspire young people to choose a career within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Participants have the chance to enhance and gain skills through a number of activities and work with industries, businesses and higher education. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Six students from the Ystrad Mynach school based the task around a trial workshop for an all-female class, which saw them build a rubber band helicopter and a CD hovercraft to demonstrate engineering is not just a ‘car-related’ field. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Prior to the workshop, 99% of the pupils would disregard a career within engineering, with 18% saying it was a man’s job and 45% saying the field involved cars. After the lesson was delivered there was a significant increase in students who would like to find out more about the subject and 21% would now consider an engineering career. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Project manager, Jasmine Warrell, 17, from Ystrad Mynach said: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I had no previous interest within engineering and had become very weary of this project once I began researching. I found it to be a very male dominated subject and mix that with my preconceptions of it being a ‘dirty’ job it really did not interest me. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Once I researched more I began to gain interest and wanted to explore the area further. I managed to get on a course with Network Rail and gained valuable experience with them. I saw what different areas were available within the subject and I would like to continue this into my further studies. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“If I were given the opportunity early enough, I could have given more thought into choosing my A level subjects but this will not stop me from progressing within engineering.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

With help from the Associate Head of Engineering at USW, Kathryn Franklin, the students were able to interview female engineers from the university to help them gain inside perspective into the industry. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Louise Pennell, Head of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at USW and lecturer within Electrical & Electronic Engineering said: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“When I was younger I did not know much about engineering. I knew I enjoyed problem solving and wanted to work in a career that would be challenging. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Working within the Electronics and IT industry is exciting, the environment changes quickly. I have been fortunate enough to travel and meet different people throughout my career, where no two days are the same. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“However, it is still clear that engineering is a very male dominated environment and this problem needs to be solved. We are all equal in our abilities to solve problems.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

USW offers a range of engineering courses, including degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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