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Women in the Science, Technology and Engineering Industries

Volume 643: debated on Thursday 28 June 2018

1. What steps the Government are taking with businesses to ensure that women are better represented in the science, technology and engineering industries. (906108)

The Government are working with business to encourage more women to consider following a science, technology, engineering and maths career path. We are doing this through a range of interventions, from major communication campaigns like the Year of Engineering to specific in-school activities like STEM ambassadors.

Will the Minister join me in commending the Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls in Romford? Retired engineers go into the school to tutor the young girls, particularly in the STEM industries. Does she agree that that is a great way to help young people, and particularly females, into this industry?

I pay tribute to that specific example and to my hon. Friend, who has championed such work in his constituency. Quite often we need to inform people not just about the career possibilities but about the pleasure those careers have given people. The STEM ambassadors programme, which is a network of 30,000 volunteers from a very wide range of backgrounds and employers, is vital to getting the message across.

Oldcastle Primary School in my constituency holds a STEM week in which it involves all our local businesses in a whole range of activities with its pupils. Last week Oldcastle and Trelales Primary Schools—the right hon. Lady is the most appropriate Minister to appreciate this—attended the RAF presentation team and saw the whole range of STEM activities that are available in the armed forces. Does she agree that we also have an opportunity to highlight STEM by engaging our armed forces’ presentation teams?

I absolutely do, and I thank the hon. Lady for mentioning this during Armed Forces Week. There are fantastic career opportunities in not only the RAF, but other services. Those armed forces are more operationally capable when we have equal numbers of men and women serving.