Getting girls to study engineering

GE Oil & Gas
GE Oil & Gas

Energy service giant GE Oil and Gas has launched an initiative to encourage young girls in the North East of Scotland to study engineering.

The five-year programme, GirlsGetSET, has been designed to raise awareness amongst female pupils of the range of opportunities available through pursuing a career in the fields of science, engineering and technology (SET).

With women making up just six per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK and only 5.3 per cent of females involved in SET-related roles, the scheme seeks to contribute to closing the gender gap between pupils choosing SET subjects at secondary school.

GE invited 120 girls, aged 11 to 15, and teaching staff from Montrose Academy, Bridge of Don Academy, and St Machar Academy to the programme’s launch event last Thursday (June 26) at its subsea headquarters in Aberdeen.

Pupils took part in workshops designed to simulate some of the challenges faced by those working in the oil and gas industry and a networking event, in which they met GE employees to find out more about the variety of different roles available in energy sector, before ending the day with a prize-giving ceremony.

The GirlsGetSET scheme is the brainchild of engineering graduates from GE & Oil and Gas’s aviation business.

Kimberley Kirkham, the initiative’s co-founder, said: “My dad is a structural engineer and was pretty instrumental in encouraging my interest in the field. He spent some time as a university lecturer when I was younger and used to bring cool experiments home for my brother and I to play with.

“I never realised there was an engineering stereotype until I went to university and was the only girl in a class of about 60.

“Until I started at GE, I didn’t have any strong female role models. I think that’s important, especially for young girls who haven’t yet made any assumptions about who engineers are and what they do. If we can make it accessible and they can see someone who’s done it before, then that helps them to identify the career possibilities and understand how to get there.

“Engineering is a great outlet for creativity and innovation and I want to help more female pupils to understand and appreciate that.

“I’m really excited that, through GE Oil and Gas, we’ve been able to bring this fantastic opportunity to the North East of Scotland, a key region for driving continued growth across the worldwide energy sector. Some of the pupils involved will almost certainly become the future of our industry and it’s important that we invest in them now.”