A revolutionary approach to engaging girls with careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)
People Like Me aims to support recruitment of girls into STEM subjects post-16, particularly those that girls typically do not choose such as physics and engineering. Currently physics is the third most popular A-level for boys but only the nineteenth for girls, and of 14,000 engineering apprentices, only 450 were girls. Failing to recruit girls into these areas is not only limiting for the girls (as they miss out on great careers in exciting areas) but also represents a real threat to the UK economy.
As James Dyson noted: the UK produces 12,000 engineering graduates a year – and there are currently 54,000 vacancies. In 2014, 39% of businesses who were seeking employees with STEM skills had difficulty recruiting those staff while 26% of core STEM vacancies in England are hard to fill. This is a major barrier to UK economic growth. The shortage of women in STEM is peculiar to the UK: some eastern European countries have around 20% women in STEM, compared with France and Spain (17% each), Denmark (16%), Germany (15%), Finland (15%), and UK (9% - the lowest).
People Like Me helps to address the lack of girls in these areas by showing the girls that people with similar personality traits and aptitudes are happy and successful working in STEM.
The People Like Me resource pack equips outreach staff, teachers and STEM ambassadors with materials that can show girls from a diverse range of backgrounds that, if they continue with at least one STEM subject post-16, they are likely to have better prospects and more career choice. The pack contains a quiz to show girls where people just like them are happy and successful in their work, which can also be downloaded as a free app from the Apple store.
People Like Me was launched at the National Media Museum in Bradford as part of British Science week 2015.