Raising girls to love science

8 March 2017

girls stem

Cardiff University is taking a whole family approach to encouraging girls to follow careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Led by Wendy Sadler, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, a series of events are helping parents overcome concerns they have for their daughters’ future careers in STEM subjects.

Run as part of the WISE Campaign’s national People Like Me initiative – which offers a new approach to engaging girls with STEM subjects – the events aim to introduce girls, as well as their families, to the career prospects and opportunities of studying STEM subjects post-16.

“Research has shown that mothers can be a big barrier to girls who express an interest in STEM” said Wendy.

“They are often worried that their daughters won’t be happy in that career or are unsure what kind of job opportunities it can give them.

“Through our events, what we’re trying to do is to answer any concerns and encourage mums – and dads - to help tackle the bias in STEM careers and show families that their daughters can be happy and successful in these areas,” she added.

For the first time this week, a workshop was held with mothers and daughters at Llanishen High School in Cardiff, as part of parents evening activities.

More than 30 families were involved in the workshop, all wanting to gain a better understanding of what kind of STEM careers may match the skills and personality types of their daughters.

Teacher Philippa Wallington, Llanishen High School said: “We hope that this event will help encourage more girls to consider taking an A Level in subjects such as physics which would then open more doors to different careers which are currently undersubscribed – particularly by girls.”

As part of the events, girls in schools across South Wales have also met STEM role models from Cardiff University and found out more about their careers by taking a fun interactive quiz about the type of person they are and how that links to a wide range of STEM jobs.

Wendy added: “The recent publication of the report ‘Talented women for a successful Wales’ highlights the need to get teachers and families engaged in broader career discussions in order to address the skills gaps in the Welsh economy.

“Cardiff University is committed to engaging the next generation of scientists and engineers, highlighting the benefits of a career in STEM subjects and encouraging more girls and women into these fields.”

Cardiff University’s People Like Me events are supported by the University’s School’s Partnership Project, which supports researchers’ direct engagement with students in Primary, Secondary and FE education, bringing contemporary and inspirational research contexts into learning to enhance and enrich the curriculum.