Whilst science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have a profound impact on our everyday lives, we continue to see a lack of engagement from students of all ages in these subjects. This is despite STEM subjects being considered one of the accelerating forces for future economic growth across the UK.
Having seen first hand, numerous young people including my family and friends who are being turned off from studying STEM subjects at an early stage is concerning (and quite upsetting strictly from a Chemical Engineering student perspective). So it's rudimentary we act with urgency, and in a manner to spark interest while inspiring them to consider engineering careers.
'Zoella of Engineering' - quite the title to live up to. Big shoes to fill. Well, a cute petite girl's small and stylish shoes, but that doesn't have quite the same ring. Zoella's a household name with a fanbase hanging on her every word, and I'm a molehill to a Zoella mountain, but I'm gonna give this 'spreading the word' thing a shot anyway.
If companies continue to support and engage education, they will become essential, trusted partners for government and civil society. Companies will prove their value to education by delivering usable knowledge and skills at every stage of education from early childhood through the attainment of a meaningful career.
The Women's Engineering Society organised a conference on National Women in Engineering Day to explore the issue, entitled "Engineering Women: Are they returning to work?" The statistics and stories from the women present illustrated the extent of the waste of talent and imagination when fully trained women leave the professions.
The UK faces a deficit of 340,000 engineers by 2020. Only 6% of Britain's engineers are female. China produces 20-times more engineers than the UK every year, and one in three of them are women. At school and university women outperform men in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Indeed, the few who do become engineers enjoy it - 98% of women engineers find their job rewarding. Who wouldn't? It is therefore incomprehensible that 93% of parents would not support their daughters in pursuing a career in engineering.
I can only hope that small changes in perception, attitude and most of all confidence like these, repeated over and over again in homes across the world, will result in more girls feeling more confident about science, and families feeling more positive (and less scared!) of tackling a science activity themselves.