On 25 June 2018, Ramboll hosted, in association with ACE, a panel discussion on Futureproofing Construction and Engineering: How can we encourage and support girls into a STEM Future? The event, held in their Birmingham offices, was part of Ramboll's International Women in Engineering Day celebrations (#INWED18 on twitter).
Mathew Riley, managing director, UK at Ramboll, and current ACE chair, shared feedback from ACE’s Skills Summit, held earlier in the month. Anne Spackman, chief executive of Career Ready, discussed how experiences impact on the decisions of young women in choosing STEM careers. Finally, Manon Bradley, development director at the World Projects Association (and a champion powerlifter) discussed the value of role models and other influences on women’s decisions to stay in a STEM career.
The three main speakers shared some success stories of their own experiences from promoting engineering among women and girls. After the keynote presentations, there were four 20-minute discussion sessions on the following topics:
- Are young women actively engaged in activities to attract them into STEM careers?
- Understanding what needs to be done at a school level and especially in early education stage to create a pre-pipeline;
- Engaging with parents, guardians, teachers and other career influencers; and
- Ideas to help companies present themselves to prospective new female recruits and improve retention rates.
One of the key issues that the day identified was how we can, collectively, address misconceptions of the profession by girls and young women. It was, rightly in my mind, identified as something which could be helped with a more proactive approach, while the additional emphasis on STEM activities at school would help improve perceptions across society. I was delighted to see that Ramboll’s STEM engagement strategy will be taking all of these issues on board, and look forward to seeing some of the other companies in our sector doing the same.
Petros Kkolas is chair at Progress Network Midlands and Engineer at WSP.