Blog

Hear from Glasgow City of Science & Innovation and its partners about the science issues that matter

Promoting STEM Equality at City of Glasgow College

Ship Engine Room at Women in Engineering event. Image: City of Glasgow College

Taking positive action to promote gender equality in STEM, Douglas Morrison from City of Glasgow College writes about the successful approach taken with support of their partners to increase female participation in the college's engineering programme.

 

Over the last two years City of Glasgow College has demonstrated a commitment to promoting gender equality in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) sector. As the Head of STEM Industry Academies at the College, I am often asked why we are doing this and my overriding response is that it is quite simply the right thing to do. Of course I also recognise the social and economic benefits of developing a diverse workforce but as Scotland’s largest College, I think it is important that we remain focused on providing unbiased equality of opportunity to all of our prospective students.

In March 2015 we hosted our first "Women into Engineering" open event. This three day event offered a combination of inspirational presentations and practical workshops in mechanical, electrical and electronics engineering. We initially aimed for 25 female students and due to popular demand welcomed 78 over the course of the three days. This was an important moment for the College as our anecdotal research had shown that female students were keen to pursue STEM careers but were not applying for courses. So why was this interest not transferring to enrolments in STEM related College and University programmes?

Feedback from the event ranged from students thinking they needed physics as a subject; they were concerned that engineering was male dominated and restricted.

That was consistent with almost every discussion I have with groups of school girls in the outreach work I do within my role at the College. It is clear to me our educational community has a responsibility to raise awareness of STEM opportunities and pathways at an earlier age and to remove and reduce environmental and cultural barriers to entry.

Although this responsibility is not easy to realise on a large scale, the College has been very active in promoting equality of opportunity through positive action. In September 2015 we introduced our Women into Engineering programme, a year-long mechanical engineering HNC programme aimed specifically at women. I am regularly challenged on this approach to tackling gender inequality but there are two points that help provide context and clarity:

  1. This is positive action. It is not positive discrimination. The programme has not in any way had a detrimental impact on any other group of students and is purely an addition to the curriculum offer.
  2. At no stage is anyone persuaded to take women only programmes. Every applicant has a choice to enrol on the women only programme or a specialised mainstream programme.

As our first group of women approach their exam period I am delighted to say that not only are they achieving but their collective performance has been exceptional. Feedback from our students suggests that many of them would not be at college studying engineering were it not for the women only provision. Across all of our engineering programmes we have increased female participation from 8% to 13% which is significantly above the sector average. Put simply; this approach works.

Ship engine room simulator at Women in Engineering event. Image: City of Glasgow College

In March this year we hosted our second Women into Engineering open event. We had over 400 expressions of interest for 125 places and eventually welcomed 138 young women to the College. It was a wonderful day where the girls engaged in a range of activities including building rocket cars, programming circuit boards, visiting the College’s state of the art ship simulators and building hydraulic rigs. We were supported by four fantastic speakers including Glasgow City of Science's very own Dr Susie Mitchell, Dr Peter Hughes, Talat Yahoob and Naziyah Mahmood. Each speaker provided an inspirational insight into the rewards and opportunities they have experienced in their STEM careers. They also offered clear examples of how they had overcome barriers and prejudices in relation to gender equality in the STEM sector.

Talat Yahoob addressing students at WIE Event

Hosting these events is a huge amount of work and we are truly indebted to our partners at Glasgow City of Science, Energy Skills Partnership, EQUATE Scotland, British Army and Primary Engineer for their support in promoting this work.

Bloodhound Rocket Car being tested at Women in Engineering event. Image: City of Glasgow College

Our work in supporting women into STEM education will continue over the next year with the HNC and NQ Programmes in Women into Engineering and Engineering Design (starting September 2016). We will also host a series of events with EQUATE Scotland aimed at promoting modern apprenticeship opportunities for women and will be supporting employer groups with free CPD sessions on unconscious bias, taking positive action and challenging prejudice. From September 2016, we will be hosting two open days per year aimed at schools and we will be working closely with Primary Engineer to support activities and sessions for school teachers.

At City of Glasgow College we are always looking for partners whose values are aligned to our own. If you are interested in our work and are in a position to help please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Douglas Morrison is Curriculum Head Industry Academies in the Faculty of Building, Engineering and Energy at City of Glasgow College.

 

Think you could blog for Glasgow City of Science? Get in touch


No Comments...


Add a comment

05 09 08 09 Audio Captcha
Add Comment
 

 

What’s happening

This is a living, breathing website with regular updates on news, blogs and events. It’s the place to come back to again and again if you want to know what’s happening in the science and technology world in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Subscribe to keep up to date on our latest news, blog posts and events.

News

   

Scottish EDGE awards record £1.8m to startups

Following a £1 million funding increase from Scottish Enterprise, Scottish EDGE has awarded 24 winn...

Read more...


Vietnamese officials learn about Scotland's social security system

Vietnamese government officials spent almost two weeks at City of Glasgow College as part of a train...

Read more...


Glasgow School of Art alumna wins Turner Prize

Glasgow School of Art alumna Charlotte Prodger has won the 2018 Turner Prize for a film shot entirel...

Read more...

Blog

   

Equality Through Innovation: The Comedian

Anna Devitt is using the power of comedy to help disadvantaged young people in Scotland. ...

Read more...


Equality Through Innovation: The Diversifier

Pheona Matovu spent years in immigration limbo and is now helping companies to innovate by fostering...

Read more...


Optimisation and Uncertainty Quantification: Two Questions for Teachers

In an expanding world with limited resources and increasing complexity, optimisation and computation...

Read more...

Events

   

The Mackintosh Festival

Festival celebrating the creative genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The programme includes exhibi...

Read more...


Stargazing at Mugdock

Learn some fascinating facts about space. ...

Read more...


Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure

Following his visits to Dorchester, Birmingham, Belfast and Glasgow, the Natural History Museum's fa...

Read more...

previous post next post