GCU inspires young girls to study STEM

04 June 2015

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) held an event aimed at inspiring more young women to get involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The inaugural, free-to-attend SmartSTEMs took place at the University’s Glasgow campus throughout the day on Wednesday, June 3. The event, which had 500 school pupils aged between 11 and 18 in attendance, featured keynote addresses from June Thomson, IBM UK and Ireland Healthcare Industry Leader, and Sarah Drummond, Managing Director of design agency SNOOK.

Ms Thomson spoke about the importance of STEM as a whole and the importance of women within STEM. Ms Drummond delivered a speech titled ‘Hack the Planet’, which looked at how STEM subjects can lead to a host of varied careers that can help change the world.

There were also 30 breakout sessions offered on the day, which included titles such as 'Crime under the microscope', 'Code now - start writing software' and 'Exploring energy with the S-Cubes'. Some of the other breakout sessions looked at careers in aviation, security on mobile devices and digital modelling of interior space.

In addition, there were awards for the best wearable technology projects, with prizes including a trip to IBM’s research lab in Hursley, a visit to CISCO and a Rolls Royce ride to school.

Organising the event on behalf of GCU’s School for Engineering and the Built Environment was Dr Tuleen Boutaleb. She said: “Female uptake of engineering and computing programmes remains low and it is events such as SmartSTEMs that aim to improve understanding of the relevance of STEM to future careers for women.

“As an engineer who lectures in Electronics and Telecommunications, I am sure that this event will contribute to the drive to increase the number of female students in my future classes.”

Professor Valerie Webster, Vice-Principal & Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning and Student Experience, said: “This event is a perfect fit with the University’s commitment to gender equality. Understanding the barriers to females studying STEM subjects at university and thus entering the related professions is a key part of our Athena SWAN* activity.”

The SmartSTEMs event was a collaboration between several partners, and was driven by Seric Systems, a technology business specialising in security, fraud prevention and infrastructure.

Stuart MacDonald, Managing Director Seric Systems, said: “For Scotland to succeed on a global scale, we must ensure we have the most diverse pool of talent tackling problems.

“SmartSTEMs exists to ensure the widest possible STEM pipeline is generated among our young people.”


*Athena SWAN is a national scheme which recognises a commitment to supporting and advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in higher education and research.