Guest Blog: Press for Progress – Let’s Check Our Unconscious Bias First

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The UK’s ability to innovate and advance is threatened by the chronic STEM skills gap. Bold moves are needed to shift young people’s negative perceptions of STEM subjects and prepare them with 21st century skills and competencies to thrive in a digital world.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are key in helping to tackle the ongoing problem, particularly with the gender gap; no one organisation can do this alone.

From the classroom to the boardroom, there is an urgency to develop these partnerships to help empower girls from the start of their career through strong role models and positive reinforcement.

In almost every society, gender stereotyping is evident from an early age and is shaped by ideas passed on from parents, family member and by society. Having strong role models is important to help break down gender stereotypes that can have such a profound effect on girls and their future career choices.

Teachers are, of course, influential role models from an early age can but also have unconscious bias – as we all do.

A crucial step towards making a positive impact as role models, is to understand our own bias’s – and CA Technologies has taken this forward by rolling out unconscious bias training sessions to all staff but also to teachers via its STEM Ambassador Academy which launched this week.

Educating teachers and giving them the platform to understand their own unconscious biases allows them to identify and
manage stereotyping in the classroom.

It is also important to give young girls the opportunity to see what exciting STEM careers look like. Following the success of People Like Me, WISE is collaborating with techUK on an ambitious plan to reach 200,000 girls, showing them that STEM subjects will open doors to a variety of jobs to suit their personality type.

The digital platform will help girls to navigate the resources and explore exciting STEM opportunities. Training for teachers, parents and STEM Ambassadors to deliver the People Like Me resource will launch in April via an online platform. Find out more by contacting r.farenga@wisecampaign.org.uk.

Change won’t wait for us; no single organisation can solve the problem. Business leaders, educators and government need to work together to address the skills gap. Addressing gender stereotyping is complex and multifaceted, and for substantial change to happen we must work collaboratively.

International Women’s Day provides the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come, but also how much more there is to do. There is still a long way to go, the question is, what are you going to do?

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