These Sunderland STEM courses are routes to high earning careers

To celebrate the achievements of female engineers on June 24, International Women in Engineering Day, the University of Sunderland urges more women to consider its STEM courses.

By Sally Burton
Friday, 21 June, 2019, 17:13
Sunderland University is working to tackle a shortfall in women engineers

With ever increasing numbers of women beginning engineering courses, the university is keen to emphasize the thousands of vacant STEM related jobs that exist right now.

It is working head on to attract more women to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects.

According to research from STEM Learning, the UK industry spends £1.5bn per annum on closing a shortfall, estimated last year to be some 173,000 skilled workers.

This year International Women in Engineering Day will run events from debates and competitions to networking breakfasts.

Academic dean of the faculty of technology at the University of Sunderland, Professor Alastair Irons, said: “The increase in girls studying STEM subjects is a trend we are keen to see continue – and accelerate.

“Through our work at the university and with our industry partners I’m confident we can address the current shortage.

“We have a series of interventions underway to challenge perceptions and address the gender imbalance.

“We’re beginning this activity before year nine; encouraging girls to see the opportunities if they choose computing and digital options at school.

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“As they progress towards higher education, we’re keeping the conversation open, hosting women-only university events, giving female students the option of a guaranteed female personal tutor in their first year, giving students access to female industry mentors and offering post-grad programmes for women returning from a career break.

“We’re trying lots of approaches – we have to rewrite the rulebook.”

The earlier that children are shown the fun side of engineering, the more likely it is to spark their long-term interest.

Encouraging more female students to take up STEM subjects and apprenticeships remains a challenge for colleges and universities, as just 8.2 per cent of core STEM apprentices are women.

Sunderland student Bethany Harrod, 22, is among those opting to take the STEM route into a high-paying career.

The Mechanical Engineering student said: “I guess my preconceptions of engineering were visions of men in overalls, covered in oil.

“Of course, the reality is very different. There are many different avenues a career in engineering can take you down. It’s an incredibly exciting career.”