NEWS 2000: North East Women into Science

Project: Project at former HEI

Project Details


The Royal Society and British Association Millennium Award, funding to develop and implement programme promoting engineering to women, Fellowship to the Royal Society and British Association for the Promotion of Science (£6000).

Layman's description

Project to encourage women and girls into science and engineering through a range of community projects, working with women's centres in large estates across the north east of England.

Key findings

Since the Finniston report was published in 1981 when it was recognised that more young people should be encouraged to take up careers in Engineering, there have been a variety of initiatives in the UK to increase the number of women in the profession. The WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) campaign reports that since its inception in 1984 the number of women enrolled on Engineering degree courses has risen from 7% to 14%. The question must be asked as to why this increase isn’t greater. There are many reasons why young women are not considering a career in what should be a stimulating and rewarding field. It is said that many women perceive Engineering as ‘unfeminine’ or ‘job’s for boys’ or ‘dirty’ and these are stereotypes that campaigners for the greater inclusion of women into science, technology and engineering are seeking to overturn. However, from an earlier age than 16 when A-level and degree course choices are being made girls are often discouraged from choosing maths and science options. The discouragement may not be overt but peer pressure and teacher/parental resistance are very powerful barriers to overcome for all but the most determined at a time when ‘fitting in’ is an important issue. I think a second important reason is the lack of examples in science and maths (and Engineering) courses which are relevant to girls’/women’s lives and interests. Whilst it is important to overcome the prejudices that women can’t possibly be interested in cars and aeroplanes it would also be useful to have examples from the many other walks of life that Engineering touches. Always having examples of cars travelling along roads in Dynamics, for example, only serves to reinforce the stereotype that maths, science and engineering are ‘boys subjects’.
Other reasons:
Lack of good/relevant careers advice
Lack of role models
Lack of visibility/prestige of engineers
The past few years has seen a dramatic increase in school leavers continuing into higher education. However, the number of women pursuing degree level science and engineering has remained proportionately small. It is a commonly held view that Science and Engineering have remained firmly male dominated. Therefore, by involving women from a wide spectrum of society, who would not otherwise have contact with Science and Engineering, it is hoped to draw a spotlight on the need for more women in science and engineering and equal participation by men and women in Science and Engineering.
Short titleNorth East Women into Science
AcronymNEWS 2000
Effective start/end date1/01/9831/12/09