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Scottish university welcomes pupils to close STEM gender gap
Supplied/Dundee University
Education & Skills

Scottish university welcomes pupils to close STEM gender gap 

A Scottish university has teamed up with an education programme for girls in a bid to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Dundee University is inviting pupils from Victoria Park Primary School on-campus to meet with female role models in the engineering industry and complete fun activities.

During the first of four visits on Monday – which coincided with Tomorrow’s Engineers Week – the pupils were introduced to civil engineering and shown how to mix colourful concrete, and create and decorate their own moulds. 

The visits are being organised in collaboration with the Empowerment Academy for Girls – a leadership development, mentoring and training programme.

Dr Margi Vilnay, lecturer within the School of Science and Engineering, said: “We’ve been really excited to host the girls from Victoria Park Primary School. 

“Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is a brilliant opportunity to showcase what engineers do, what they did in the past and what we can all do together in the future.

“Collaborations like this are the way forward. We’re showing them that engineering is creative and fun, and it’s also all around us. To get these enthusiastic young girls involved in engineering at this young age is just fantastic. It’s so important for society.”

As part of the initiative, the girls will be shown some of the research being done at the university. The concrete mixing activity introduced the group to work being done that is recycling toner powder from old printer cartridges to make coloured concrete.

Jill Duke, founder and leader of the Empowerment Academy for Girls, said: “This is our first STEM event and it has been absolutely fantastic.

“Last year when we were exploring careers with the girls, we looked at what differences we can make in the world and what roles we have to do to make these changes. STEM subjects came up in that conversation.

“Their curiosities show it’s real learning. When you make it engaging, hands-on and practical at a level they understand, you can completely open their minds.”

Rebecca Amao, a teacher at Victoria Park, added: “The children were so engaged, they’ll never forget this. It has been very useful because they are actually experiencing it first-hand and getting involved. If they know more about a certain subject, it’s easier to branch off into that field.”

The Victoria Park group will visit the University of Dundee three more times to explore biomedical and mechanical engineering.

Each visit is designed and delivered by female engineers within the institute. On the last week, an engineer from Balfour Beatty will offer a virtual site visit.

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