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Programme to inspire schoolgirls to consider Engineering

Weir Wise girls engineering programme

Fledgling female engineers have taken part in a new programme at the University of Strathclyde designed to inspire them to consider the discipline as a career.

S2 pupils from 61 schools across Scotland were welcomed to the Faculty of Engineering as part of the ‘Young Weir Wise: Discovering Engineering programme’, funded by the Weir Group.

The two day courses saw 92 female students take part in a range of team based challenges, including building a water filter.

Evidence shows that there is poor gender balance within most engineering degree courses in the UK, with some courses having less than 10 per cent of female students.

S2 is a crucial time as if pupils fail to select physics and maths in their National 5 subject choices, it is more difficult to get the required qualifications to apply for an Engineering Degree.

Participants on the two courses in January learned about the benefits of studying these subjects, creating an opportunity to study engineering that might otherwise be lost.

Next generation

The programme aims to inspire female participants to become the next generation of engineers.

Yuki Faulds, 13, from Taylor High in Motherwell, said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. This is my first time coming to a university. I feel it’s quite possible that I would look at engineering as a career.”

Emily Zenuwah, from Linwood High in Renfrewshire, said: “When I thought of engineering I thought of people building bridges, I didn’t realise there are so many different types of engineering.”

Niamh McIntosh from St Columba’s High in Gourock, said: “I thought engineering was all people in high visibility vests and hard hats but it’s so much more than that. It’s been a real eye opener and good to meet people with the same ideas.”

Professor Zoe Shipton, Head of the Civil & Environmental Engineering department at Strathclyde, said: “We want female students to consider engineering as a career by giving them a flavour of how exciting and rewarding it can be.

“Science and engineering subjects have traditionally been seen as male orientated and the choices pupils make as early as S2 can impact their whole future.

“If they don’t select the right subjects at that point, even if they show an interest in engineering in S3 or S4, it can be an uphill battle to gain the required qualifications to apply for an Engineering Degree.

“Our programme with the Weir Group incorporates group activities and challenges which hopefully, as well as teaching them the educational requirements for university entry, will inspire them to choose a future in engineering.”

Rosemary McGinness, Chief People Officer at The Weir Group, said: “Weir is delighted to partner with the University of Strathclyde to inspire young female students to become the next generation of engineers. This is a wonderful chance to raise awareness of the many exciting career paths that studying subjects like maths and physics can unlock.”