Promoting Women in STEM 2017

further & higher education

8:45 - 16:15

Thursday 30 March 2017

Hallam Conference Centre, Central London

This Forum examines the strategies required to attract more women into the UK STEM sector. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss successful initiatives and learn from best practice case studies that have been successful in widening the pool of talent and helping to maximise the contribution of women to STEM.


This Forum is specifically designed for the Higher and Further Education Sectors and Schools, including Associate Deans and Professors, Deans of Sciences, Project Coordinators and Managers, Heads of Equality and Diversity, Development Officers, Faculty Leaders, Heads of Science and Department, Headteachers, Science Lecturers, Outreach Managers, Professors, Science Teachers and STEM Leads. This forum is also open to the private and voluntary sectors to encourage discussion and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Susannah Wiltshire, STEM Workforce Policy Lead, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive, The Wise Campaign
  • Benita Mehra, President, Women’s Engineering Society
  • Professor Uta Frith, Chair of the Royal Society Diversity Committee, The Royal Society

*Click here to see the other speakers and detailed programme*


Policy Background

Women comprise nearly half of UK employees and yet only 21.1% were part of the Core STEM workforce in 2016, according to the WISE Campaign. Girls also consistently achieve better GCSE grades than boys in the majority of STEM subjects, but the number of girls taking A-Levels or degrees in STEM subjects is substantially less. This trend has consistently led to a lack of qualified STEM women emerging from Further Education.

As a result of the latest figures, increasing diversity within the scientific workforce is a key pledge of both the government and the Science and Technology Committee. The government launched two new employer-led pilot projects in February 2015 to open up new routes into engineering for women and increase their potential to progress further in their careers. It has also undertaken a number of engagement and outreach activities – including bursaries and scholarships, the STEM Ambassadors Programme and the Further Mathematics Support Programme – and invested £67 million in training teachers in Maths and Physics. The latest government initiative, just announced in the Spring Budget 2017, will see the allocation of £300 million funding to support 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships in STEM subjects.

Progress is starting to be made; the WISE Campaign recently confirmed that more women are choosing to do STEM apprenticeships than ever before, with the number of women professionals in the SET management category increasing by 23% in 2016 compared to 2015.

However with a million more women required to meet a critical mass of 30% of the STEM workforce and a significant decline of 18% of women seen in the Science Professionals category, it is imperative that significant efforts continue to be made to inspire girls to choose careers in STEM in order to maintain the UK’s competitive position in the global economy.

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Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Fran Dainty, Head of Content and Expertise, STEM Learning (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Inspiring Diversity in STEM - The Government's Perspective

  • Drawing on all available talent to allow the UK to reach its full potential by improving diversity in the STEM workforce and inspiring more young people to study STEM subjects
  • Giving specific examples of BEIS and wider government-funded programmes being used to support STEM and the creation of a more diverse STEM workforce now, and in the future
  • Increasingly focusing government programmes where evidence suggests they will have the most impact, for example on young people who enjoy science but do not see it as for them
  • Making access to the STEM Ambassadors Programme and Crest Awards easier for those already interested through development of digital platforms, as well as ensuring more targeted efforts for those not already engaged

Susannah Wiltshire, STEM Workforce Policy Lead, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Working in Collaboration to Promote Women in STEM

  • Working in partnership with schools and employers to fulfill the objective of getting 1 million more women into the UK STEM workforce
  • Offering training courses to organisations and companies on career development for women in STEM
  • Engaging girls in STEM through campaigns such as ‘People Like Me
  • Using apprenticeships and creating more opportunities in STEM for women who want to return to work after a career break to increase the number of women in the STEM workforce

Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive, The Wise Campaign (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Towards Inclusion - Diversity Matters at the Royal Society

  • Analysing the composition of the scientific workforce in terms of gender, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic status and background
  • Outlining the internal work undertaken at the Royal Society, including unconscious bias, data collection and the internal working group
  • Reaching out to the scientific community through projects like Parent Carer Scientist
  • Diversifying the next generation of scientists with programmes such as Inspiring Scientists and Destination STEMM

Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FMedSci FRS, Chair of the Royal Society Diversity Committee, The Royal Society (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: The Role of Higher Education in Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in STEM

  • Being nominated for the WISE Hero Award in the 2016 Wise Awards for inspiring women to study and work in STEM subjects
  • Outlining the findings of the report, ‘Talented Women for a Successful Wales’, which aims to find ways to encourage more girls and women in Wales to study STEM subjects
  • Carrying out direct access work in communities to raise awareness about and applications for STEM subjects
  • Collaborating beyond the university with employers and external partners to increase participation of women in STEM
  • Detailing innovative ways in which people and organisations can encourage more girls to undertake STEM courses at a higher level and better succeed in their careers

Hilary Lappin-Scott, Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Successfully Integrating the Athena Swan Charter Within University Departments

  • Being an Athena Swan gold department award holder and a beacon of achievement in gender equality
  • Demonstrating a cultural shift in attitudes and working practices through the ‘#simplygoodpractice’ system and providing a guide to academic career opportunities for students and post-doctorates
  • Ensuring significant and sustained progression and achievement in promoting gender equality and addressing challenges particular to the discipline
  • Championing and promoting good practice in gender equality to the wider community
  • Actively ensuring that the Department invites enough female speakers to deliver seminars, in order to provide role models that reflect the gender intake into the field at undergraduate and graduate level

Professor Sara Mole, Professor of Molecular Cell Biology, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, UCL (CONFIRMED)

Professor Rob de Bruin, Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, UCL (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Increasing Women in STEM Through Engagement and Outreach Work

  • Winning the WISE Campaign Award 2015 for its launch of National Women in Engineering Day to highlight the work of women in industry
  • Encouraging and promoting the education, study and application of engineering through the annual WES Student Conference, the Magnificent Women Outreach Project and supporting the creation of WES affiliated student groups at university
  • Highlighting the importance of outreach work in communities to increase representation of women in STEM
  • Raising awareness about careers in STEM for women from under-represented backgrounds through outreach work with schools
  • Supporting women to achieve their potential as engineers, applied scientists and leaders through MentorSet; a mentoring programme open to WES members and partner organisations

Benita Mehra, President, Women’s Engineering Society (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Increasing Representation of Women in the STEM Workforce

  • Using AWE’s WiSTEM (Women in STEM) Working Group to increase diversity and encourage female retention and sponsorship in the technical areas of work within the company
  • Promoting flexible working policies and encouraging inclusive behaviours and language to fully integrate women at all levels and disciplines
  • Working with local schools and charities to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM and regularly holding open days for both students and parents to promote the STEM industry
  • Increasing the number of AWE female apprentices and outlining key lessons learned in how to attract women to the STEM workforce

Ruth Busby, Head of HR for Site & Capital and Member – Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Supporting Women and Girls in Technology Careers

  • Encouraging the increase of access to employment opportunities for women across the technology labour market
  • Directing the British Computer Society’s engagement with the government on female employment in the technology sector
  • Encouraging and promoting the education, study and application of technology through organising events, workshops, lectures and campaigns
  • Offering recommendations for how businesses and higher education institutions can continue to engage and encourage women to pursue long-term careers in technology

Gillian Arnold, Managing Director, Tectre, Former Chair Woman – Women’s Specialist Group, British Computer Society and Chair, CEPIS European Women in IT Taskforce  (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: The Importance of Early Intervention For Increasing Women in STEM

  • Ensuring all teachers and support staff are involved in raising awareness of women in STEM
  • Highlighting the importance of extra-curricular STEM activities in secondary schools
  • Working with employers and external voluntary sector organisations to increase access and awareness around women in STEM among girls from a young age
  • Reviewing the School’s experience of promoting an interest in STEM careers to its female pupils, including lessons learned

Liz Painter, Assistant Curriculum Leader for KS3 Science and STEM Lead, Sandbach High School (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Panel Discussion: Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Barriers to Increasing Women in STEM

  • Encouraging Girls to Pursue Careers in STEM: Leslie Whyte-Venables, STEM Ambassador Liaison Lead, STEM Learning (CONFIRMED) & Kris Harrison, Engineering Innovation Lead, Leonardo (CONFIRMED)
  • Catching Them Young – iSTEM+ at Key Stage 2: Professor Adrian Oldknow, Emeritus Professor STEM Education, University of Chichester (CONFIRMED)
  • Ensuring Advancement of Gender Equality in Science and Medicine: Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend, Lifelab Programme Manager, University of Southampton (CONFIRMED)
  • How to Increase the Representation of Women in the Workforce: Ruth Busby, Head of HR for Site & Capital and Member – Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) (CONFIRMED)
  • A Canadian Perspective on Increasing Women in STEM: Dr Imogen Coe, Dean – Faculty of Science, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada) (CONFIRMED)


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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