Women in engineering - 5 myths busted

If science and engineering careers are a party, here are 5 reasons why everyone should feel like they’re invited

Did you know there is a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills shortage in the UK right now, especially in engineering? Feel free to start looking into building your science skills right here, right now, whoever you are. You’ll get loads of support in your early career, and could end up with a great salary, too. Here are 5 major myths busted about women in engineering, and also about science in general…

Myth 1: “But boys like science more than girls do…” See the fun pic below of students attending the Big Bang careers fair this year? There’s lots of girls there as well as boys, right? See how they’re all, you know, enjoying themselves? That’s because science is about imagination, creativity and thinking about a better future. That kind of fun is for everyone. Girls don’t need to be encouraged into science by being told it’s about lipstick.

Myth 2: “But boys are better at science than girls…” Check out Irish teenagers Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, pictured below. They only went and won GOOGLE SCIENCE FAIR 2014 with their idea on how to help end world hunger! What’s more, they based their winning project on some gardening Emer was doing with her mum. They’re letting their light shine, and they’re just some of the many, many girls out there who are great at science and feel pretty good about it.

Perceptions do still need to change, though, it’s true. In a big 2013 survey by Girlguiding UK, 62% of 11-21 year-old girls believed science, technology and maths was just for boys. There are lots of great organisations out there are helping girls to feel confident and positive about science. You can also explore cool orgs like STEMNET,the Stemettes and ScienceGrrl.

Myth 3: “You can’t be creative in science” This is one of those general myths about science and it’s not really to do with gender. However, just in case you’ve ever worried that science won’t let you explore your artistic and creative sides, check out these amazing science projects…

12 year old Lauren Rojas built a space balloon and launched her Hello Kitty doll into almost-space to reach a height of 29km in an experiment called “the effects of altitude on air pressure and temperature.” You can watch the video: here

Here is a Harry Potter Claymation video by 16 year old Neeka Mashouf (founder and chief of the Renewable Energy Club). She made the claymation with some friends when she was 13 and it explains Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Plus there are all those super-popular YouTubers out there who are actually science vloggers! People can’t get enough of the science-ing by superstars like Veritasium and Physics Girl. It’s like the joy of everything that’s great about YouTube, plus you get to learn stuff.

Science is what you make it, and it can be a really creative subject that lets you explore loads of aspects of your personality.

Myth 4: “Doing science means you can’t do anything else with your life”

Again, the idea that science cuts you off from other stuff is a general myth. The good news is that science doesn’t close doors to other careers – it opens them. Did you know that even sport, publishing and fashion have science-based jobs to help you get your foot in the door? What’s more, employers love seeing science subjects on your CV, even if it’s for a non-science job. That’s because your science qualifications show you have all sorts of handy skills and qualities like teamwork, leadership, getting to the root of a problem and coming up with smooth solutions.

Myth 5: “You need a degree to get into science and you’ll end up studying just with boys…” Actually, you don’t need a degree to start on a science career. For one thing, there are lots of apprenticeships out there in engineering and similar science areas, and they are increasing every year. You could step into a science, IT or engineering apprenticeship straight after your GCSEs.

You could also combine traditional GCSEs and A-levels with specialist technical qualifications at a University Technical College. Discover what these girls (aged 14-19) said it was like to study engineering at a UTC.

Women in engineering 2012 statistics Back in 2012, women made up:

5.5% of engineers 13% of people working in science, technology, engineering and maths 1% of apprentices in construction and planning and urban environments 20% of A-level physics students (it’s been like this for 20 years!!!) Statistics taken from: WISE 2012; IoP 201

Let’s bust these figures through the roof in 2015.

Interested in engineering? Read on... As an exercise, ask yourself these 3 questions. They have been raised as useful questions to ask by the ScienceGrrl organisation, whether you’re a girl or a boy:

Is science for people like me? Do I feel confident? Can I see the career options and possibilities? Do you feel you’d like to be able to answer ‘yes’ to all these questions but can’t? If that’s the case, you may need more support and more information. These steps can help:

Step 1: Explore Plotr’s Your Life Science Careers World for all kinds of really varied career ideas and pathways to getting those roles. You’ll soon see that science isn’t just about test tubes! After all, science can also get you a job in sport, publishing or fashion. Step 2: Explore all kinds of STEM-friendly employers on Plotr who might be able to help you take your first career steps in a science direction, perhaps with a funding option like an apprenticeship, a sponsored degree or one of the new industry designed degree apprenticeships (which are a new way for you to get a degree for free). Step 3: Talk to your teachers, careers advisor and parents about what opportunities might be open to you and where you can get help. Step 4: Hook up with free online networks and organisations who are there to support you. Women Rock Science is just one great example. With so many engineering and science career opportunities available in the UK, it’s important that you feel able to reach out for these jobs whatever gender you are. Perceptions do still need to change about women in engineering and science, but if you’re a girl who wants to explore science, there’s so much more help for you than there used to be.

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