GCU STEM event aims to inspire young women

01 June 2016

The event this year takes place on Tuesday, June 7.

The event this year takes place on Tuesday, June 7.

For the second year running, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will underline its commitment to inspiring more young women to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Hosting the award-winning SmartSTEMs on the Glasgow campus, GCU hopes to attract over 500 pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 to take part in activities that include a robot race, forensics investigation, model bridge building, coding, TV news programme production, and surveying.

The first SmartSTEMs event won an Inspiring City Award last year, a ceremony which was organised by The Herald and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce in association with city brand People Make Glasgow.

Organising SmartSTEMs on behalf of GCU’s School for Engineering and the Built Environment this year is Dr Tuleen Boutaleb.

She said: “We are focusing on pupils who are about to select their subjects at school and hopefully this event will better inform them on what engineering, computing and other STEM subjects are about.

“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 as future careers for women."

The event this year takes place on Tuesday, June 7, and activities on the day will be led by Dr Anjali DeSilva (Engineering), Dr Agnieszka Klemm (Construction & Surveying) and Fiona Fairlie (Computing). 

Ten of the workshops are to be organised by GCU staff and students and 18 workshops will be hosted by external companies and SmartSTEMs volunteers. There will also be numerous internal and external exhibitors hosting demonstrations and hands-on activities on the day, while over 40 student volunteers will help run the event.

Keynote speakers will include Dr Susie Mitchell, programme director at Glasgow City of Science; and Jane Grant, a contributor to Girl Geek, a community for women working with computing, creativity, and enterprise in Scotland.

The event supports the University’s commitment to gender equality and a key part of its Athena SWAN activity, the national scheme which recognises a commitment to supporting and advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine in higher education and research.

Professor Valerie Webster, Vice Principal & Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning and Student Experience, said: “I’m delighted that GCU is again hosting this event, which was so successful last year. This is an exciting opportunity for female pupils to experience the world of STEM at university, which we hope will inspire them to seek a future career in STEM.”

SmartSTEMs, now a Scottish Charity, is a collaboration between several partners including Beyonder and Women’s Enterprise Scotland and is driven by Seric Systems, a technology business specialising in security, fraud prevention and infrastructure.

Stuart Macdonald, managing director Seric Systems, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Glasgow Caledonian University in the delivery of STEM engagement and in so doing opening up a world of opportunity to Glasgow’s young women.”