North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said we must do more to support women and girls in science.
Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, he said he wanted to see a time when everybody could name a list of famous female scientists. Mayor Driscoll and the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) are committed to levelling-up career and education opportunities for women in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Mayor Driscoll said: “We need to encourage more women into science. There’s no physical or biological reason they cannot participate as much as men; the barriers are cultural. If more women were encouraged to pursue scientific careers, we’d unleash a wave of talent to grow our high-tech economy. We can’t have a situation where women and girls don’t think science is for them. From primary school to university and in work, everyone needs encouragement and the confidence to take on new opportunities.”
BSc Physics with Astrophysics graduate and Science Communicator at Kielder Observatory Naz Jahanshahi has helped drive the North of Tyne Combined Authority STEM and digital project. Naz said: “If I could speak to my younger self I would say take whatever opportunity that is offered to you and throw yourself into it. Find those placements and internships and surround yourself with people that inspire you and motivate you.”
Statistics show there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in STEM, and indeed gender equality more generally. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 – 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent). In the UK, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, only 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women. Between 2017 and 2018, 39% of students studying physical sciences were female. In the same period, the percentage of female students studying mathematical sciences was just 37%.
The NTCA is a combined authority with an elected mayor that was created in November 2018, when Parliament signed off on a £600 million devolution deal bringing Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside councils together in an unprecedented transfer of power and investment from Westminster to the North East. It is tasked with initiating projects to boost growth, create jobs, and create a more green, inclusive economy. North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll was elected on a promise to support communities in the North of Tyne to create and build wealth, then keep that wealth in the region.