Four major communications companies have joined forces to introduce a new pilot mentoring scheme to encourage schoolgirls to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.
Women’s networks from BT, Ericsson, O2 and Vodafone have been working together on the pilot in partnership with Girls Talk London, an organisation which aims to empower women to learn from others in senior roles in business.
Research from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) recently revealed that only nine per cent of engineers in the UK are women. In the same survey, 60 per cent of parents said ‘they did not know how many opportunities there were for girls and women in engineering’.
In February, programme leaders from Girls Talk London encouraged applicants who are in Year 12 from four schools across the capital – King Solomon Academy in Westminster, St. Michael’s Catholic School in Southwark, Heathcote School in Waltham Forest and Our Lady’s Convent School in Hackney to apply for the scheme.
Over the past month, there have been over 60 applications, which have been reviewed by Girls Talk London. The agency also conducted interviews with the candidates.
Twenty school pupils have been selected and matched with a mentor from each of the businesses involved. The girls will receive one session a month with their mentor up until October, as well as a full week of work experience in July.
The scheme is initially a pilot but all four companies have big ambitions for the programme and hope it can be rolled out across the UK through further collaboration.
Paula Constant, chair of BT’s Women’s Network and director of field, business and ethernet connections at Openreach and said: “This scheme could make a real difference in encouraging girls to apply for jobs that require STEM skills. Research shows that even though girls study the relevant subjects in school, only a minority go on to pursue careers in this area.
“This issue needs to be addressed and we’re really excited about the role we can play in inspiring and supporting female school leavers who may be considering a career in STEM. There are numerous opportunities at BT for women who want to pursue a career in engineering, cyber security, or technology.”