Survey highlights need for more women in STEM role models

Network Rail has launched a competition for children to promote more women in engineering after a survey showed few think there are enough women in STEM.

engineering genders


The majority of young people think there are not enough female role models in STEM, according to a survey for International Women in Engineering Day this week.

The survey by Network Rail of more than 2,000 16-21 year-olds, conducted by Savanta ComRes, showed that two-thirds (64%) of total participants and three quarters (77%) of young women asked felt there were not enough female role models within STEM, and just 26% of young women said they intended to pursue careers in STEM fields.

When participants were asked if they recognised famous names and faces of STEM figures, more than 80% were familiar with male figures such as Steven Hawking and Sir Isaac Newton, but just 18% knew of Ada Lovelace, who is credited as the first computer programmer for her visionary work in computer science in the 19th century.

With these findings in mind, Network Rail has launched a new competition, open to everyone aged between 5 and 14, aimed at promoting the work of female engineers and inspiring the next generation with the fantastic inventions and feats of engineering from women through history.

Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion for Network Rail, said: “Promoting positive female role models is a great way of providing inspiration for future generations to join us.

“From Mary Anderson, inventor of the windscreen wiper, to Marie Van Brittan Brown, who invented the home security system, there’s a host of women who have come up with inventions and engineering solutions which we simply couldn’t live without.”

Children are invited to consider what our world would be like without the work of a female engineer and create a poster, poem or story to explain their findings.

Entries will be displayed on screens at Network Rail’s stations. Two winners of different genders will also be selected by an independent judging panel from each of the three age groups (5 to 8, 9 to 11 and 12 to 14) will have the chance to ask questions to female role models in engineering. Winners from the youngest age category will also be turned into cartoon characters for a starring role in an Emily the Engineer activity book, whilst winners from the older age categories will be presented with a one-of-a-kind VIP Golden Ticket experience day at Network Rail.

To find out more, click here.

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