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News: Smashing stereotypes in construction and STEM

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Female engineering students in a workshop
Female engineering students at Highfields

Nottingham College is one of the largest providers of construction and engineering training in the Midlands, but we’re still seeing a considerable gap between the number of female construction students compared with male.

As it’s British Science Week (BSW), we’re shining a spotlight on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and construction careers and hoping to inspire more females into these growing industries. 

Over the past five years, our construction cohort (which includes both Construction and Building Services) has seen 4725 male students training with us, compared with just 456 female students – that’s less than 10%! 

Similarly, over the past five years, only 6.8% of our Engineering students were female and just 5.4% for Motor Vehicle. 

BSW’s Smashing Stereotypes’ campaign aims to highlight the diversity of the STEM workforce, the extent of jobs and careers available, and that scientists are just like everyone else.

Growing industries need expanding workforces

Wind turbine

After an unsettling period, the future is looking bright for the construction industry. A growing population and demand for power, combined with the urgency for greener energy to tackle climate change, means there’s never been a better or more crucial time to upskill our current construction workforce and to encourage the next generation of young trainees to enter the industry. 

From wind turbines and solar power to geothermal heat and electric vehicles. The number of renewable and sustainable energy sources are expected to continue to increase over the next few years and it’s vital that we prepare our workforce. 

Inspiring females

Working hard to inspire the next generation of female students and helping to tackle the out-dated stereotypes, is Kirsty Walsh, our Head of Centre for Engineering and Automotive, and previous Nottingham College Manager for Building Services.

Kirsty Walsh
Kirsty spoke to BBC East Midlands Today about encouraging more females into construction and STEM careers, as part of International Women's Day.

Engineering and construction isn’t all about hard hats and construction sites, they are fast-paced, innovative industries with new technologies and techniques being introduced all the time. 

These industries are expanding quickly and require people with a variety of skillsets and from all different backgrounds – both male and female. They involve practical and academic abilities, and the range of job opportunities are vast. 

It’s the responsibility of training providers like ourselves to help breakdown the stereotypes and misconceptions, because for females to dismiss careers in STEM and construction would be an extremely missed opportunity, both for them and for the future of these sectors. 

 — Kirsty Walsh

Debora studied a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering at the College’s Highfields campus and progressed to the University of Nottingham where she is now studying Mechanical Engineering. She dreams of running her own engineering firm one day, and said: 

I think girls still have misconceptions of engineering, but I would urge any female interested in this area to consider it as a career option. I’m so happy I chose to and I’m excited for where it will take me in the future. 

 — Debora
Published on:
  • 11th March 2022 (2:27 PM)
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