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Inspiring young women for a future in STEM

In commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD) earlier this week, it is important to take stock. Over the past year equality issues have enjoyed a higher profile but there are still key gaps whether in pay or the proportion of women in key roles. Indeed a recent report showed that one third of schoolgirls in Scotland believe they are “not clever enough” for a career in STEM.

Data Scientist has been lauded as the sexiest job of the 21st Century. On IWD, The Data Lab had the chance to engage with schoolgirls to inspire them to raise their aspirations for a career in data science at a SmartSTEMs event, run by Seric Systems in partnership with RBS. The event reached out to Primary 6 & 7 girls to motivate them about STEM careers and help organisations and educators hear about the latest opportunities for young people. The girls had a chance to hear inspiring presentations form successful women in the industry, and experience STEM in practice, through fun activities and games.

As a woman within the technology sector, Gillian Docherty, Chief Executive at The Data Lab is passionate about affecting real change and increasing the number of women in the sector. After her presentation at the event, Gillian said:

“I was hoping to inspire them to consider a career in data science. I was in turn inspired by their enthusiasm. Once we’d debunked the ‘techie’ myths and helped them see the value of data in terms they understand you could see a tangible shift in realisation that they really could indeed carve out a career in this area.”

Being technically savvy has become the new norm. Every aspect of our lives today is data-driven. From listening to music, exercising and ordering the weekly shop or home delivery through to crime prevention and medical diagnosis.

At the Data Lab we come across exciting data projects every day that are not just about data, they are also about problem solving and communication that also require creativity. These projects are making significant contribution to the Scottish economy and some are helping solve large problems in society today, like curing cancer.

We would love for our young females to see the opportunity and seize it and understand they are capable of working on these type of projects in Scotland in the future.

We believe we have a lot of work to do around future proofing our talent pipelines, and raising the aspirations of our young female students around the STEM subjects from an early age.

When our school girls take the STEM subjects they are preparing themselves to work in some of the most valuable jobs around, that require that understanding of data and digital. The world we live in is going to have changed dramatically when these school girls become adults, from the way they commute, the way they are treated medically, communicate and what they do for their working days.

Preparing for a career in STEM is future proofing our skills pipelines in Scotland. We must take action now to nurture young talent for a career in one of the most valuable industries around.

Scotland has a real chance to be a driving force on the world data stage. Women can and must be part of that revolution.

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