This year, these initiatives have been expanded and STEM taster sessions offered to over 250 female students in schools across West Wales, to try to improve on the perception of STEM subjects as being ‘difficult’ or ‘inaccessible’ to girls.
At the inaugural event, UWTSD welcomed fifty pupils from Cefn Hengoed and Dylan Thomas Schools to our SA1 campus to find out more about the world of IT and technology and careers in STEM.
The pupils took part in workshops in Cybersecurity and Games Design, and heard from female academics about their careers in IT, research and technology.
Yolanda Guerrero, Innovation Fellow from ATIC (Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre) also provided an introduction to the world of 3D printing, followed by an inspiring talk from Dr. Nitheesh Kaliyamurthy, Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Computing, which helped dispel some myths around working in IT.
Sky a pupil from Dylan Thomas School said:
“I enjoyed the day, it was great and it’s been good to do the tasks and find out more about the world of Tech. I came today and I never thought I could study or work in IT or technology but it’s made me think I can and believe in myself,”
Lily, a pupil from Cefn Hengoed School echoed these sentiments and said:
“It’s really changed my mind being here today and changed my whole situation about thinking about STEM.
“I needed to hear more about the jobs and what people do but now that I’ve been here and heard about what I could do I feel encouraged to do it. I would now definitely think about choosing IT or computing for GCSE and I wasn’t thinking about it before.”
The Widening Access Team at UWTSD works in conjunction with Student Recruitment to provide activities for young people attending schools and colleges in Wales.
They aim to support all young people that they engage with to meet their full potential and make well-informed decisions regarding their future.
Sam Bowen, Widening Access Manager said:
“We are delighted to be involved in this exciting series of events in order to encourage more females to consider studying and working in STEM subjects.
“As seen from the feedback this work is helpful to provide young people with role models and raise awareness of the wide range of opportunities out there.
“After an albeit short amount of time the number of attendees claiming to now be considering a career in STEM which they had never previously been and being excited by the prospect shows the real need for days like this.
“These events help reinforce the message that females are vital for future technology and innovation solutions and can be successful in STEM.
“We want to see more females transition from school to STEM courses and jobs so initiatives like this are important for them to make informed choices at crucial points in their educational journey such as their GCSE options.”
Nitheesh Kaliyamurthy, Senior Lecturer in Applied Computing said:
“The Computing team at UWTSD are actively involved in creating awareness amongst schoolgirls on various career opportunities available in IT and STEM fields.
“Both Staff and Students organise diverse activities including cybersecurity, robotics, games etc, giving them a taste of the STEM environment.
“All of the resources at our disposal are used during the event to show the participants the opportunities and career paths available in the respective fields and clarify the myths surrounding STEM subjects.
“We look forward to inspiring our next cohort of pupils and changing behaviour to encourage more girls to study IT and technology focused subjects.”
Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon FREng, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UWTSD has recently been named a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and is actively involved in the campaign to inspire women and girls to study STEM subjects.
She said: “The University places unequivocal importance on empowering and enabling groups of diverse, and underrepresented people to enter higher education.
“This is especially true in STEM subjects, where the work done by the University is palpable, but also ongoing.
“As an engineer, I am particularly keen to ensure that women of all ages have the help and support needed to see themselves as the problem solvers of the future, and to see this university as the vehicle to achieve their dreams.”
The events have been organised by the University’s Computing team, the Widening Access Team and supported by Headstart Cymru, with female guest lecturers from the academic team in Engineering, Construction and Environmental Conservation.
The team are looking forward to the next event in November where pupils from Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School will visit the SA1 campus for a day of interactive STEM experiences, making full use of the University’s state of the art technology.