Throwing open the doors of a complex business, showcasing the real women behind the science, is the only way to truly engage with girls and show them that they can have an exciting and successful future in companies such as ours.
On International Women’s Day 2018, 32 girls aged 13-14 were invited to Pangbourne to meet females from every level of the business, from senior leadership to new graduates and recently qualified apprentices, and to find out more about the huge range of careers that are available if they study STEM subjects at school.
The day was full of interactive discussions, careers talks and networking. The girls visited labs and engine testing rooms. All the activities encouraged the girls to have open discussions with female BP employees who were hoping to break gender stereotypes around jobs such as ‘scientists’ and ‘engineers’.
As well as being a day full of inspiration and new experiences, BP recognizes that it is vital to make a real impact on girls and encourage them to pursue a STEM career in order to help to reduce the STEM skills gap in the UK and tackle the issue of gender inequality.
Our industry and others needs bright people with a strong foundation in STEM subjects to be the geologists, drilling engineers, chemists, analysts and business people of the future but research has shown that there is a drop off in the number of girls studying core STEM subjects at the age of 16. Just 35% of girls choose maths, physics, computing or a technical vocational qualification compared to 94% of boys.
David Taylor, BP’s Pangbourne community manager, says that Age 13-14 is the ideal age to bring students in for day activities like these. It’s a point in their education where they may need additional support and may benefit most from contact with inspirational role models. It is just before they choose their main subjects and this early intervention can plant the seed and help the students to visualize their future.
BP has worked with schools for 50 years. We focus on creating experiences that will have real impact on young people – we work with students from a wide range of backgrounds and with a wide range of attainment in order to promote aspiration and inclusion. International Women’s Day is a great way to express this and to celebrate the future of STEM.
To find out more about BP’s commitment to STEM education and what you can do to help close the STEM skills gap, go to bp.com/STEM.