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Raise career aspirations of young women to achieve gender parity

Written by Paula Devine | 08 Mar 2016

  • BCC launches report on ways to boost the number of women entering well-paid, science & technology and engineering careers on International Women’s Day
  • Findings based on BCC and Government Equalities Office scheme that worked with more than 1,400 female pupils, 38 businesses and 37 schools across England

To coincide with the global campaign for gender parity as part of International Women’s Day 2016 (8 March), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published a report about a project run jointly with the Government Equalities Office (GEO), aimed at boosting the number of young women entering well-paid science and technology jobs.

The report, A Model for School and Business Partnerships, outlines ways to change attitudes to career-related gender stereotypes in education. The report demonstrates some effective methods of raising young women’s aspirations in well-paid science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)-related careers, where candidates are in great demand by employers. By inspiring young women to take up highly-paid STEM careers, we can look to narrow the gender pay gap.
Some of the key recommendations for schools and businesses to consider include:

  • Encouraging teachers to engage with their local business community, to improve their own understanding of the range of industry sectors and job apprenticeships in their vicinity.
  • Inviting businesses to be involved in lesson plans, to widen awareness of the career paths available to women, and to improve the focus on equipping young people with the skills and knowledge needed to enter the workplace.
  • Promoting direct engagement between business leaders and pupils, including workplace visits, talks and presentations, to let students meet business role models and change their preconceptions about the types of people who work in specific industries.

The BCC School and Business Partnership Project, a collaboration between the Government Equalities Office and Chambers of Commerce, ran from 2014 to 2015. The project engaged almost 1,500 female students and brought together 38 businesses and 37 schools to promote STEM subjects and careers to female pupils. The five Chambers involved in the pilot scheme were St Helens, Hertfordshire, Devon, Staffordshire and the North East of England.

Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Businesses support the ambition to close the gender pay gap. However, to truly achieve this, we need to start in the classroom. Young people, especially young women, often have deep-rooted preconceptions about certain job roles. The failure to consider prospects in science and technology-related sectors causes many to opt for other careers, sometimes at lower pay levels.

“We need to change these perceptions if we are to use the nation’s talents and skills more effectively. Science-related sectors need access to all the country’s talent, not just half of it, if we are to be at the forefront of innovation.

“We need to tackle this urgently by increasing the interaction between education and business, and inspire young people to see all the career options open to them.”

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:

“To really end the gender pay gap in a generation we must tackle its causes and make sure that no one is held back because of their gender or background. That means ending the myth that some jobs are ‘just for boys’ and encouraging more girls to consider careers in the highest paid sectors, particularly in STEM subjects.

“What better way to excite and inspire young people than by businesses and schools working together to show girls the variety of career paths open to them in these sectors. This programme does just that and I congratulate the British Chambers of Commerce on its brilliant work.”


Please click here for the full report:


Topics: Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, engineering, skills, British Chambers of Commerce, education

Paula Devine

Written by Paula Devine

Paula is Head of Membership and Global Services at Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce.

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