Breaking down barriers for underrepresented groups in STEM

Organisers of a University of Dundee event hope to spark new ideas about how to encourage traditionally underrepresented groups to choose STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

STEM 4 All – Reaching Out with Outreach Virtual Panel and Workshop takes place on Friday 25 June, and will be hosted by the University’s School of Science and Engineering in partnership with the Dundee and Angus Regional STEM Hub.

The event was organised in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, which is marked annually each June.

Women are considered underrepresented in STEM fields, making up just 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce. Black, minority ethnic and disadvantaged young people are also consistently underrepresented within STEM.

Looking to tackle this, STEM 4 All will bring together a variety of speakers to share some exciting activities, discuss new ways to promote STEM subjects and careers, and create new opportunities. There will be a specific focus on engaging underrepresented groups.

Dr Margi Vilnay one of the organisers of the event, said, “STEM professions are exciting and are key for improving our quality of life, however there is growing concern over the decline in young people pursuing STEM subjects.

“Additionally, women, disabled people and those from ethnic minorities or socially disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented in STEM generally, and engineering in particular.

“Increasing diversity in STEM would not only help with the skills shortage challenge, but it is also widely acknowledged that diverse teams are stronger, more effective and better at coming up with innovative solutions – all key for economic growth.

“Our workshop will bring together industry partners, outreach charities, teachers and university staff and students to explore and develop meaningful STEM outreach activities, focusing on relating STEM studies to real life activities, showcasing diverse role models and highlighting the variety of career opportunities.

“We anticipate that this workshop will result in some exciting projects to be delivered in the local community and supported by the University over the next year in order to breakdown barriers and increase diversity in STEM.”

STEM 4 All will take place on Friday 25 June from 10am–12:30pm. Those wishing to attend can register for the event via Eventbrite.

The event will include speakers from the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers Scotland (AFBE-Scotland), Balfour Beattie construction, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) and teachers, each giving an overview of their STEM outreach projects and activities.