Inspiring female engineers in Sheffield

The University of Sheffield runs event to inspire the next generation of women in engineering

The University of Sheffield this week welcomed 600 local female school pupils to the Octagon Centre to learn about how they can transform the world through science, technology, engineering and maths at the annual Exploring STEM for Girls event. 

The Exploring STEM for Girls event is aimed at local female school pupils in a bid to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through a variety of interactive experiments, demonstrations and workshops. 

The University of Sheffield is committed to inspiring and encouraging women to pursue an education and career in the engineering industry, an industry in which the engineering workforce is currently 94% white and 91% male. The event aims, along with other initiatives such as the Wall of Women in the Faculty of Engineering, to urge females across the country to close the gap and create a more diverse engineering workforce. 

The event is a chance for young females to have an immersive experience with STEM subjects and realise that these subjects are exciting, accessible and achievable. – Dr Gwendolen Reilly, University of Sheffield

Dr Gwendolen Reilly, Director of Women in Engineering, Senior Lecturer in Bio Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and lead speaker at the event said: “All of us at the University of Sheffield are passionate about encouraging more females to pursue engineering. The Explore STEM for Girls event is just one of the many ways we reach out to the next generation of would-be female engineers.

“The event is a chance for young females to have an immersive experience with STEM subjects and realise that these subjects are exciting, accessible and achievable.” 

In collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, the event also gave pupils the opportunity to speak to current university students and staff about their studies, careers and the real-life applications of STEM subjects which have helped to make a difference.

Helen Walker, Senior Schools and Colleges Engagement Officer at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “It is vitally important that young people, but in particular young women, are encouraged to study STEM subjects and work in these industries. Everyone benefits from having a diverse workforce, whether that’s in the classroom or in the workshops or the boardrooms. Sheffield Hallam, along with our colleagues from the University of Sheffield, are proud to champion women in STEM and to be involved in events such as this.”

Highlights from the day included:

  • A popcorn machine to demonstrate the chemical engineering process involved in food manufacture 
  • A 15-metre span cable-stayed bridge which attendees were able to walk over, demonstrating the power and simplicity of civil engineering 
  • Robotic demonstrations from the Computer Science department 
  • A scalextric race track which school pupils were able to use to experience electrical and electronic engineering