A group of students from South West College travelled to London on 25th April as part of the Miss STEM project, an initiative funded by Erasmus+ to involve young females in meetings with decision makers in the field of STEM in the UK.
STEM Education Officer Dominic McGeown explains, ‘Throughout the time the STEM Centre has been open it has been evident that currently many STEM careers are male dominated, and the hope for this project was to speak to various councils to change this.
‘We have brought over thirty women, either in existing STEM careers or studying STEM subjects at school or college, to be part of the Miss STEM project and to look into the reasons for the lack of women in these careers. We want to spread the message that these areas should be made more attractive for women, and so far the girls have spoken about this topic at the Mid Ulster Council, Stormont and the Houses of Parliament.
This last event, the visit to the houses of parliament provided a memorable experience for the students involved. They enjoyed tourist attractions including a See London By Night Bus Tour, which took them passed landmarks such as the London Eye and Tower Bridge, before getting to the work of making their way to Westminster for their presentation.
Once there, the presentation was an undoubted success. Student, Zoe Clarke, took great positives from it, saying: ‘I feel the London presentation had the greatest impact, as they asked a lot of questions about what should happen to make a change, such as starting encouragement and equality from an early age.’
Likewise, Eve Gallowey, another MISS Stem participant, said, ‘Learning about being accepted and encouraged in STEM careers has opened my eyes to the stem careers and made me realise that just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I’m not capable of being successful and working in a stem career.’
The success of the talk was supported by those it was aimed at, one of whom said, ‘the presentation was excellent because they were all short, sharp and to the point. In a way it was perfect, you couldn’t have done it better.’
Dominic McGeown shared the enthusiasm, saying, ‘It was a very successful trip, and one which was important to the whole MISS Stem project, as it gave the participants the chance to deliver their research and findings to members of parliament, in order to try and make a difference in the future.
‘The girls provided key ideas on how they think the government can encourage young women into STEM careers as well as thoughts on starting initiatives to try and excite students of the possibilities within these subjects. The Members of parliament were very helpful with their feedback and took on board the ideas which the girls brought forward.’
The trip to London and the visit to the UK House of Parliament was one of the final events on the Miss STEM schedule, and having also previously visited the local council and the Northern Ireland assembly, participants will now design an animation to communicate the findings and outcomes of Miss STEM to a wider audience of young people, influences and stakeholders. Additionally, an online poll will be developed to provide wider research on the relevance of the female STEM agenda for young people.
Dominic McGeown concluded by saying ‘It will be very interesting to see if the government bring these things to fruition in the upcoming years, but already a great deal has of progress has been made by the work that has been done and the manner in which it has been carried out.’