Today we’re sharing STEM Insights from Julie Grieve, Founder at Information Apps
Q1. Why do think getting more girls into STEM subjects is important?
We need a balanced workforce and a balanced boardroom. We know from several studies (including Grant Thornton’s Women in Business; the value of diversity 2016 report) that companies with diversity on their board perform better. The lack of girls taking STEM subjects makes it hard to recruit them into roles which require a science or technology knowledge and this then follows through to a real lack of senior women at pre board level who can be promoted onto the full board.
Q2. With a magic wand and no barriers, what initiative or step-change would you introduce to get more girls into STEM?
- I was initially against quotas but I am coming to believe they are the only way to drive the change necessary to ensure diversity at Board level.
- Introduce coding into primary schools
- Help young people understand the importance of maths, perhaps that would mean a change in the way we teach it
Q3. When or what made you realise that STEM subjects weren’t just for boys?
When I was at school there was very much a split in 3rd year in terms of the difference between girls and boys choices. I didn’t think it was a problem, but I remember looking at a list of where our year was going to university and what they were going to study and realising there were very few engineers and they were all boys. I wasn’t discouraged from taking STEM subjects at school but career guidance didn’t really explain the benefits of sticking at STEM subjects.
Then when I joined Governing Council at ESMS I realised just what a big task there is to encourage girls to embrace STEM. Given we are now balanced in terms of accountancy and law, there really is no reason why it should be the same in tech and engineering as long as they are introduced to these subjects early, they understand their practical career implications and are given good advice at subject choosing time. It’s also important that the environment is correct, the statistics around STEM subjects having stronger uptake at all girls schools indicate that there is still work to do in the state sector.
Q4. Within the STEM field, who inspired you most to follow your career path?
I am a non technical co founder so my role models tend to be women who have started their own business, like Leah Hutcheon founder of appointedd a tech start up in Scotland who has been hugely inspiring. It has been heartening to see women at the top of tech companies such as yahoo and google.
Q5. Writing back to your old self at the age of 14, picking your all-important exam subjects, what would you say to yourself with hindsight?
I would tell myself to stick in at maths, although I sat it at higher at that point I struggled to see the relevance of it in my future life and I left the exam early. Now I understand how it helps develop logic which is crucial for coding.
I’m not sure that in 1985 I could even choose computer science as an option, but if it was there I would tell myself to take it. Opportunities in Tech and engineering just continue to grow and there are some absolutely amazing jobs out there.