The gender gap within the STEM sector is a significant issue at the moment, with women being underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths related occupations, making up only 14.4% of all people working in STEM in the UK. Currently, in the North West, only 19% of technical roles are female!
This is where InnovateHer, an 8 week school programme, steps in. They are dedicated to developing the skills and confidence in young girls, ages 11-17, to pursue a career in technology. Although the gender gap in STEM disciplines is an ongoing problem, InnovateHer works to close this by providing opportunities to female pupils through project-based academies, mentoring and networks. Their aim is to help young girls explore the wide range of careers open to them, to encourage excitement about their futures and to create a space where girls can grow and collaborate together.
As Wranx and InnovateHer both share common ground with our passion for technology, we thought it would be a great opportunity to create a partnership. So far we have helped InnovateHer launch their first schools-based programme at Belvedere Girls Academy, where industry role models lead the sessions, such as UX researcher Kate Rylance from Liverpool’s largest digital employer, Shop Direct. The programme typically consists of pupils learning core technical and digital skills, such as coding, or UX design methodology such as wire-framing and other topics not often taught as part of the national curriculum. Most recently, the girls from Belvedere Academy had the opportunity to visit Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and their Innovation Lab who pioneer in health technology.
So, has the programme actually made a difference? After their time at Belvedere Academy, InnovateHer conducted a survey to assess theimpact of the programme on the girls, and the results were impressive. 100% of respondents said they now feel confident in having a career in tech, with 62% of them wanting to continue their learning whilst at school, as they are considering taking a tech related subject on at GCSE or A Level. Even the parent’s of the pupils provided comments, saying how well the course was organised and how they wish they had the same opportunity when they were at school. As well as this, the programme has not only had a positive impact on their daughter’s education, but on the girls themselves, with one parent commenting on the vast improvement of her daughter’s confidence.
Kate Rylance, a lead tutor of the programme, comments:
‘Over the 8 weeks, it was wonderful to see the girls grow in confidence. At the end of the programme they all did a fantastic job at pitching their ideas, which is a nerve-wracking thing to do for even the most seasoned public speakers! As someone who works in industry, I thought it was great that there was a strong focus on soft skills, such as delivering constructive feedback to peers. This will be invaluable experience for the girls to take into their future careers, whether in the tech industry or otherwise.’
It is clear that InnovateHer is a wonderful and effective cause, as it achieved its goals whilst at Belvedere Academy: educating and inspiring young girls to pursue a career in tech related fields. Not only this, but they have taught pupils valuable skills to use in the future, such as public speaking and presentation skills. We are really proud to be part of such an inspiring programme and wish the girls every success for the future!