Role of women in science and engineering in the spotlight at major London conference
All-day conference focussing on women at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and maths
17 September 2015
Exactly 40 years on from the day that the Sex Discrimination Act was granted royal assent, a major conference in London is to examine the role of women in the UK’s science and engineering sectors.
Featuring high profile speakers, the all-day conference will focus on women at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It will look at how organisations can attract women and create a more diverse workforce, as well as how schools can inspire girls to study STEM subjects.
The Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, a passionate advocate for the broader advancement of STEM subjects, including the role of women is a key speaker at the event,
He said: “This conference provides a welcome opportunity to focus on the issue of gender and science in relation to the UK and its global place in science and research, but also to share global best practice.”
The conference on November 12 is being organised by the WISE Campaign as part of their annual WISE Awards celebrations – dubbed ‘the Oscars of the science world’. WISE works to inspire girls and women to pursue STEM careers, and the conference will celebrate success and showcase women who are excelling in STEM fields through leadership, invention and innovation.
WISE director Helen Wollaston said: “Forty years on from the Sex Discrimination Act we still haven’t got equality, and discrimination and gender pay gaps still exist.
“WISE will ask the question ‘How do we embed policies in education and industry which are geared to delivering more women in the STEM workforce instead of relying on bolt-on initiatives?’”
The conference will explore the fact that success comes from having women engaged and involved, and that diversity of thought is crucial to organisations aiming to be the best in the world.
Naomi Climer, president elect of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and recent president of Sony’s global Media Cloud Services division, will be speaking at the event,
She said: “Diversity in the workplace is a compelling business issue – there is plenty of evidence that companies with a diverse workforce perform better financially, are able to attract employees from the entire qualified population, are more likely to innovate, and are better able to serve a diverse client base. These companies are also nicer places for everyone to work!
“The issues range from early education, visibility of role models, generalised perceptions of what a career in STEM means, and the recruitment and retention policies of companies.
“Despite the subject being on the table for 40 years, progress has been frustratingly slow. The IET has worked with other organisations on both research and initiatives but there is still a lot to do to release the potential productivity gains and tap the entire STEM workforce that we’ll need for decades to come.”
Other speakers will include Vivian Hunt, managing partner at McKinsey & Company, UK and Ireland. American engineer and retired NASA astronaut Dr Sandra Magnus will also be taking part in the conference, which will be compered by journalist Kate Russell, best known for the BBC technology programme Click.
The conference, which takes place at the IET’s flagship venue in London, is sponsored by big name companies including headline sponsor Bloomberg. It will precede WISE’s annual evening awards ceremony which honours innovative women working in STEM. As always Royal Patron of WISE, HRH The Princess Royal has been invited to present the Awards and is expected to address the dinner guests.
The WISE conference and awards ceremony take place on Thursday, November 12, at the IET London: Savoy Place, which will have just re-opened following a £30m refurbishment.
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