From education to employment

Girls into STEM – People Like Me in Construction

People Like Me is a revolutionary approach to engaging girls with careers in STEM. It allows girls to use their natural tendency to define themselves by adjectives – such as imaginative, good with numbers or creative – whereas boys tend to describe themselves as an engineer, physicist or scientist. The resource pack translates these descriptions into types of workers – explorer, regulator, persuader or developers – and shows girls how they match up and which careers might be interesting to them.

The People Like Me in Construction resource was created by WISE, which promotes women in STEM, and is based on research and pilots in schools and with employers. It is for girls aged 11-14 years – the critical age for career decisions – and contains lessons to explore construction roles and tips for teachers and STEM ambassadors on how to help girls explore the industry.

Now WISE is calling for employers and female role models in the construction industry to team up and take advantage of the resource pack and specialist training to deliver People Like Me to more young women across the UK.

The People Like Me process gets girls to think about their own personality and how their attributes relate to STEM careers in areas like construction. They are introduced to a variety of women who work in construction and so relate to people in those careers as ‘people like me’.

Stephanie Mitchell, Director of Industry Relations at UTC Reading said:People Like Me sessions help us engage girls in a really practical way. The percentage increase of girls at KS5 Year 12 who are interested in STEM careers has grown from seven percent to 14 percent. Girls gave some fantastic feedback like ‘I am not scared of being an engineer just because I am a girl’ and ‘I’m feeling more confident, I know that there are lots of opportunities’.”

Karla Fell, a student at UTC Reading who has taken PLM lessons, said: “I have learned that there are plenty of job options open and anyone can do these jobs”.

Steve Fox CBE, chief executive of construction firm BAM Nuttall and WISE board member is a supporter of the resource pack and said: “Attracting and maintaining women in STEM careers is an important focus at BAM Nuttall – ensuring a diverse workforce is vital to success in any business. The construction industry is currently going through a huge digital transformation and to solve some of the future issues we’re facing, we need the input and involvement of people from all backgrounds to make this happen. We have done a lot of work behind the scenes and now it is time to branch out to a wider audience.”

Nicky Ensert, supply chain development group manager at Highways England said: “It is vital that we and our supply chain partners have the right skills and workforce to achieve our goals of maintaining and improving England’s strategic road network while improving safety and customer service for all road users. Encouraging greater diversity and developing inclusive working environments will help us recruit and retain the best talent that is available.

“Recruiting isn’t just about the now, it’s about engaging our future workforce; from civil engineers to quantity surveyors, designers to construction managers, communication professionals to plant operatives – we need talented people across all areas of the business to build a more sustainable and innovative sector.”

WISE CEO Helen Wollaston hailed People Like Me in Construction as a step change for the sector saying: “Employers tell us they would employ women if only they would apply. A few simple changes to how roles are described and marketed makes all the difference. We hope employers in the construction sector will use this pack to attract more women for jobs and apprenticeships.”

First published by WISE 19 July

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