February 19, 2015, by Tara de Cozar

STEM is #notjustforboys at UoN

UoN technician extraordinaire Kelly Vere and her colleagues have been featured as part of a national government campaign to promote women in traditionally-male working environments — the #notjustforboys campaign. She explains why in this guest blog post.

The Employment Minister Esther McVey MP and the Department of Work and Pensions launched the #NotJustForBoys campaign yesterday, an initiative to encourage young girls and women into industries that have traditionally been male dominated.

Recent research reveals there are likely to be around 12 million job opportunities open up in the UK over the next decade, and despite women now choosing to work in record numbers, they are still underrepresented in many of the UK’s jobs growth areas.

One of these growth areas is science and engineering technicians. Since 2011, 45% more women are now choosing a career as a technician but overall only 25% of the industry are female.

The University of Nottingham has a strong reputation for promoting the roles of technicians and for encouraging women in science and technology. In 2014 we were awarded the S-Lab Supporting World Class Science Award for our work to promote the professional identity of technical staff and in 2012 we were awarded the Athena Swan Charter Silver award, an accolade shared with only four other universities in the UK.

As such, and as the only university to be approached by the Department of Work and Pensions to support the campaign, we were very keen to be involved.

Female technicians from across the university came together on the day of the #NotJustForBoys campaign launch for a photo-shoot to celebrate our female technical staff across science, engineering and technology. The resulting images have been shared through numerous social networking channels including the Department of Work and Pensions, the Science Council, Respect Yourself, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the popular Science Grrl network and have reached well in excess of 100,000 people.

We were also invited to give two live interviews on the Notts TV news programme on the evening of the 18th February which gave us an opportunity to talk about the importance of technical roles and the work the university has been doing to support women in STEM. Footage and stills of technical staff working here at the university were used and the feature was very well received.

All of these activities have led to further opportunities for us as an institution to promote the importance of the technical role, to ensure it is viewed as a professional career in STEM and to ensure that young people are aware of technical career paths, regardless of gender.

Kelly Vere featured in the #notjusttoboys campaign.

Kelly Vere featured in the #notjusttoboys campaign.

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