Successful programme changing girls’ minds about STEM careers to go digital


DATCHET, January 31, 2017 - The WISE campaign and techUK, the industry body representing the tech sector, today announced plans for the revolutionary People Like Me resources to go digital.

The new online resources will be designed to encourage more schoolgirls to think about their own personality and how their attributes relate to STEM careers.

The first sponsor and event host, CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA), was also announced along with a call to find a further seven sponsors to ensure the digital project is rolled out to 200,000 female students over the next five years.

Helen Wollaston, chief executive of the WISE campaign, said: “65% of the UK’s mixed secondary schools have no girls doing Computing at A Level and many have no girls doing any STEM subject in the sixth form. We can’t address the UK’s skills shortage if we lose so much talent after GCSEs.”

Despite girls outperforming boys in GCSE STEM subjects – 71% achieve grades A* to C against just 62% of boys – just 7% of girls move into higher STEM programmes against 24% of boys on the same path.

Jacqueline de Rojas, techUK President, and Managing Director UKI of Sage, said: “To create a digital nation of significance, we must address the growing digital skills gap. There’s an urgent need to build tech skills and equip our workforces for the digital age – it’s vital for supporting and enabling our businesses to continue to power up the UK economy. An important part of closing the digital skills gap is addressing the issue of diversity in tech. Girls taking computing at A Level has declined by 70% – and boys are four times more likely to take IT GCSE than girls. That’s why I believe ‘People Like Me’ is such an important resource to get more young girls engaged with digital and STEM from an early age. It will empower them to understand the wonderful opportunities in tech.”

Created by the WISE campaign, which promotes women in STEM, People Like Me has been used in nearly 500 schools. From piloting, more than half (58 per cent) of those involved showed an interest in a career in STEM thanks to the test’s new approach to personal analysis and career discussions. Further evaluation will be available later in 2017, but in one school a quarter changed their minds entirely and a third had their interest in STEM reinforced.

The resources work by allowing girls to use their natural tendency to define themselves by adjectives – such as imaginative, good with numbers or creative – whereas boys would tend to describe themselves as an engineer, physicist or scientist. The People Like Me tools then translate the descriptions into types of worker, such as Explorer or Regulator, Persuader or Developer, and show which STEM careers could be of interest.

With British companies facing a STEM skills shortfall of 69,000 recruits a year, bosses are hoping this initiative will help reduce the gap.

The digital project was launched at an event hosted by the digital project’s first sponsor, CA Technologies. A further seven sponsors are now needed to complete the full roll-out.

techUK board member and Vice President at CA Technologies, Sarah Atkinson said: “Today, every organisation relies on technology to power their business and the war for STEM talent is real. Through our Create Tomorrow programme, we are committed to inspiring, influencing and educating young people about the career opportunities in STEM and we believe that the People Like Me Goes Digital programme will make a significant impact in increasing the number of girls in our sector.”

More information about People Like Me – Careers in a Digital World can be found here.

Key facts on girls in STEM subjects

  • A total of 90,910 students (male and female) a year go on to study STEM subjects or take a STEM qualification post 16
  • Girls consistently outperform across most GCSE subjects, even more so in STEM than in other subjects (71% of girls achieve A*-C grades in STEM, compare to only 62% of boys)
  • In the year to August 2016, a total of 295,584 boys and a total of 288,084 girls took STEM subjects at GCSE. It is compulsory to take maths and at least one science subject course at GCSE
  • When it came to moving on to A-Levels, Advanced Apprenticeships or Level 3 Vocational Qualifications, there were 237,509 boys and 97,557 girls. 66 per cent of girls drop all STEM subjects at this stage
  • When it came to moving on to higher education, Higher Apprenticeships and Level 4 Vocational Qualifications, there were 70,573 boys and just 20,337 girls – a shortfall of 50,236 girls
  • A total of 24% of boys move into higher STEM programmes but just 7% of girls follow the same path.
  • There is a shortfall of 69,000 qualified people each year to fill predicted vacancies in engineering companies. The largest proportion of job openings will be in construction, and ICT related fields, posing a massive threat to British industry. (http://www.engineeringuk.com/Research/Engineering-UK-Report-2016/)
  • The Engineering sector alone will need to recruit 2.56 million people by 2022, of which 257,000 will be new jobs 

About techUK

techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. The tech industry is creating jobs and growth across the UK. In 2015 the internet economy contributed 10% of the UK’s GDP. 900 companies are members of techUK. Collectively they employ more than 700,000 people, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. These companies range from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups. The majority of our members are small and medium sized businesses.

techUK is committed to helping its members grow, by:

  • Developing markets
  • Developing relationships and networks
  • Reducing business costs
  • Reducing business risks.

About techUK’s Women in Tech Programme

The UK’s digital economy is world-leading and techUK believes that having a gender balanced workforce across the tech sector will make tangible change toward achieving ongoing leadership. The UK’s phenomenal digital potential must be matched with a robust and growing talent pipeline to realise the opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in tech for decades to come – and this means attracting brightest and best female talent into the sector.

By encouraging women to enter and thrive in the tech industry at all levels we become more robust, more competitive and more innovative. Through targeted actions and collaboration with members and stakeholders, techUK’s Women in Tech programme aims to facilitate the attraction and retention of talent from as broad a demographic as possible to increase diversity within the tech sector.

About WISE

WISE is a Community Interest Company which provides Business to Business (B2B) services to STEM employers, educators and training providers. We offer best in class expert support services to organisations seeking to improve their gender balance, including engagement and advancement of women. We do this through these pillars of activity:

  1. Insight and Knowledge: Generating and sharing fresh insight and knowledge about the causes of and solutions to gender imbalance in STEM – from classroom to boardroom
  2. Collaborate, connect and amplify the impact: Developing WISE members to be THE leaders, role models and champions of gender balance in science, technology and engineering sectors
  3. Inspiration: Inspirational events and campaigns which provide a platform for our members to change perceptions about and engage the notable talents of women in science, technology and engineering

For more information visit www.wisecampaign.org.uk

Press Contacts


Sarah Atkinson

CA Technologies
Phone: + 44 1753 242191

Rebecca Taylor

CA Technologies
Phone: +44 1753 241559

ABOUT CA TECHNOLOGIES

CA Technologies (NASDAQ:CA) creates software that fuels transformation for companies and enables them to seize the opportunities of the application economy. Software is at the heart of every business in every industry. From planning, to development, to management and security, CA is working with companies worldwide to change the way we live, transact, and communicate – across mobile, private and public cloud, distributed and mainframe environments. Learn more at www.ca.com.

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