Women are seriously under-represented in careers relating to science, technology, engineering and maths (the STEM subjects) in the UK. The problem starts at school, where many girls who have done well in those subjects decide not to pursue them beyond the age of 16, believing that STEM careers are ‘for the boys’.
We joined with WISE, which has been working to raise the profile of women and girls in STEM since 1984, in its latest campaign to tackle these culturally engrained stereotypes. Our task was to build a tool that would help girls between the ages of 11 and 19 relate more easily to STEM-based careers, and to encourage them to stick with maths, physics, technology, computing or engineering all the way through school.
We built an interactive game that helps students find out more about themselves and what they are good at. Students are asked a series of questions about the kind of person they are, and their answers are fed into an algorithm that matches them with three personality types. They are then shown pictures and profiles of women in STEM careers who share their personality, and a list of roles where their traits might be valuable. The idea is to reinforce the message that whatever kind of person they are, there’s a place for them in STEM.
The new tool, My Skills My Life, was launched on 23 January at a ceremony attended by WISE’s patron, Princess Anne, and covered by BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC South Today and the Reading Chronicle. WISE hopes the publicity will help it bring the game to 200,000 girls over the coming months.