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Competition judges target science gender divide

By KentOnline reporter

Judges for school-science initiative the Bright Spark Awards are urging teachers to go out of their way to encourage girls to enter the competition.

Becky Lipscombe, marketing coordinator of Bright Sparks judging organisation the ITL Group (7778932)
Becky Lipscombe, marketing coordinator of Bright Sparks judging organisation the ITL Group (7778932)

The awards, which encourage teams of pupils to use cross-curricular skills in Stem (science, technical, engineering and maths) subjects in practical projects, are now open for entries.

And the judges believe they can play an important role in addressing the stark gender divide in the study of Stem subjects.

Results from Accenture’s 2018 Girls in Stem survey suggested:

• 49% of girls and young women viewed Stem subjects as too difficult

• Only 29% of them felt confident in their ability to excel in them

• But 62% of girls aged 14-plus regretted not persisting with Stem subjects for longer

While community interest company Women into Science and Engineering (Wise) says women make up just 24% of people working in core Stem industries.

Becky Lipscombe, marketing coordinator of Bright Sparks judging organisation the ITL Group, said: “It makes no sense at all to have half of the potential talent pool so badly under-represented in any field.

“When that is the case, the task of recruiting the best becomes more difficult for businesses like ours.

“For society to thrive, it is absolutely essential for young women to see all the limitless possibilities that Stem has to offer.

“Fantastic initiatives like the Bright Spark Awards focus on building a stronger connection between studying Stem and the benefits it brings.

“They give young girls the opportunity to experience for themselves just how fun and creative science and engineering can be, and that studying them is not just for boys and can truly lead to amazing life and career opportunities.”

The awards are open to primary and secondary schools, and there are three categories: innovation, investigation and invention.

The finalists will be invited to a Dragons’ Den-style awards event at Discovery Park in Sandwich in July, during which videos detailing their projects will be shown before they are quizzed by the judges.

The judges, who also include Atkins Global, Megger, Global Associates, Pfizer, Discovery Park, BAE Systems, EduKit, Highways England and Golding Vision, will present a range of prizes, with the overall champions receiving £500.

Submit entries and find out more about the competition at www.kmcharityteam.co.uk/schools/brightspark.

Alternatively, contact event coordinator Hannah Hawksworth at hhawksworth@thekmgroup.co.uk or on 0844 264 0291.

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