Tackling gender segregation in the Modern Apprenticeship programme

Alyson Laird is a PhD research student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She works within the WiSE Research Centre which seeks to promote and make visible women’s contribution to Scotland’s economy. Her PhD research focuses on gender segregation in the Modern Apprenticeship programme in Scotland.

Alyson visited our Kilwinning Campus recently to have a chat about our approach to tackling gender imbalance in courses and apprenticeships. We invited Alyson to share the aims of her research with us in our blog.


I haven’t always been passionate about gender equality and feminism, but an inspiring lecturer at GCU encouraged me to think differently about the economy and society we live in. Since then, I have had a desire to be part of the change needed to tackle inequalities in our society, specifically gender inequalities.

My research focuses around the Modern Apprenticeship programme, and more specifically the gender segregation which exists within the programme. Gender segregation is where women and men are more likely to be found in jobs stereotypically associated with their gender. For example, less than 2% of those participating in construction and related apprenticeship frameworks are women – that’s only 77 out of over 5,000 participants! My research asks why this is the case and what is being done to change it.

Is it a problem?

This is a question I hear often. Maybe girls just want to work in childcare and hairdressing and boys want to work on building sites and shipyards? These are statements I hear when I discuss my research with people who aren’t aware of the extent of the problem.

Yes, it is a problem.

It’s a problem because the youngest members of our society are taught from a very early age that there are jobs for girls and jobs for boys. Arguably, things are changing – schools, for instance, are making massive changes in this area. You only have to watch kids’ TV for an afternoon or go into a toy shop to notice that gender stereotyping is everywhere. Girls play with dolls and dress up as princesses. Boys play with Lego and pretend to be superheroes. The world around children at the earliest ages can have an impact on the careers they decide to embark on later on.

It’s a problem because we have a gender pay gap, a situation where women in society are being paid less than men in society and much of this is to do with women and men being in jobs stereotypically associated with their gender. The jobs which women are most visible in are those which typically offer lower pay and are often under-valued in our society. Think of the important work that social care workers do? Why are they not being paid a better wage for the job they do, a job that requires a unique set of skills and recognised qualifications?

I don’t think it is just a case of girls wanting to do stereotypical women’s jobs and boys wanting to do stereotypical men’s jobs. I think there are structural and cultural constraints which influence the choices young people make, and hinder accessibility to certain sectors. And I think the Modern Apprenticeship programme has a massive role to play in helping to eliminate existing stereotypes.

What will I do?

There are over 25,000 young people starting apprenticeships every year in Scotland. The most popular apprenticeships are those within Construction & Related frameworks and those within Health & Social Care frameworks. These occupational groups are also the most gender segregated.

My research is looking at both – challenging what is being done to get more women into construction and addressing the low esteem within health & social care frameworks. I am doing this by firstly talking to as many stakeholders as possible. So, I am speaking to places like Ayrshire College who have been proactive in engaging with both sides of the issue through events like ThisAyrshireGirlCan and ThisManCares. The contribution from stakeholders is valuable, it allows me to explore what is going on in the Modern Apprenticeship programme and enhances my understanding of who does what in terms of funding and recruitment for example.

Secondly, I will chat with Modern Apprentices themselves – firstly through a survey and then through interviews. It is important that the voice of apprentices themselves comes through strongly within this research. The story the apprentices tell about their journey to do a Modern Apprenticeship, who influenced them, what challenges they faced, why they chose that particular route, is one of the most important parts of my research. It tells the real story of what’s going on and how things could be improved from people who have lived the experience.

Finally, I will engage with employers, asking them what they are doing to support apprentices and how they can play a role in improving gender equality within the programme.

Why am I doing this?

Because I want to see change.

The changes happening are too slow, the figures over the last ten years have hardly changed. I wonder why with all the efforts to make young people aware of what’s out there and with all the events which take place to encourage non-traditional careers, what has been missed? Hopefully my research will start to try and answer this question and I can help contribute to positive change for women in our society.

If you would like more information about my research please contact me at:

Alyson.Laird@gcu.ac.uk or follow my Twitter feed @AlysonLaird

 

 

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part six

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

Today is the final day in the series and Catriona tells us about the CDN Marketing Awards.

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Last night the marketing team attended the College Development Network Marketing Awards in Edinburgh. The ceremony was held in the Ghillie-Dhu and we won three silver and one bronze awards! One of the awards was for digital marketing – it’s great for me to be doing my apprenticeship in an award-winning team.

Ayrshire College

After the excitement of the CDN awards last night, it is time to get back to work. I decide to start my day with writing and scheduling social media posts on Facebook and Twitter to promote the #Respect campaign that the College is running. The Respect campaign encourages everyone to ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect People’. The posts I scheduled link to the interviewing the College’s Front of House team blogs, they are a great insight into another team in the College. Read the series here:

https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/category/respect-campaign/

Next, I start working on scheduling posts for an exciting conference that the College are holding later this month called Ayrshire Bytes, which is part of DataFest17, a week of activities focused on data innovation. The Ayrshire Bytes conference will present a range of perspectives on data innovation and best practice, and showcase Scotland’s leading role in this area. There are going to be some great guest speakers attending, including Gillian Docherty, Chief Executive of The Data Lab, Brendan Faulds, Associate Director at NHS National Services Scotland, Vicky Brock, Chief Executive of Clear Returns, Daniel Macintyre, Senior Manager of Glasgow Tourism Strategy and Craig Hume, Managing Director of Utopia Computers and Richard Millar, Senior Manufacturing Systems Engineer at Spirit AeroSystems.

At the end of the day, I catch up with my boss Shelagh, and she gives me feedback on the work I’ve been doing that week. We then agree on my goals for the following week and this gives me clear instructions on what I need to work towards.

So, that’s my blog finished for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I hope you’ve enjoyed having an insight into what it’s like working as a Modern Apprentice for Ayrshire College. My role is so varied and I’m always kept busy from day-to-day and I am always learning new skills. I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity at Ayrshire College, and I love working as a Modern Apprentice. It was definitely the right route for me to take, if you’re thinking of applying for an apprenticeship I would say go for it! It’s the best decision I have made.

8 things the Semta UK Training Partner of the Year Award means for Ayrshire

Coinciding with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Ayrshire College has received the amazing accolade of being named the 2017 UK Training Partner of the Year at the Semta Skills Awards in London.

Semta is a UK-wide organisation and is the sector skills body for engineering and manufacturing apprenticeship frameworks in Scotland.

Over 500 people representing the best of British engineering attended the awards ceremony. This achievement reflects the work we do with the engineering industry in Ayrshire, particularly the cluster of aerospace companies around Prestwick Airport, and our internal and external partnerships that facilitate this.

What does this award say about Ayrshire College? Here are eight things we believe it tells us.

MA Week Twitter posts

It shows Ayrshire means business. It can be relatively quick and easy to acquire land and build premises, but to build a skills base is a much longer term investment. The recognition from Semta, rating us as being the top training partner in the UK is a sign that we have made this investment and Ayrshire is the prime location for aerospace and manufacturing companies to operate and grow.

Companies already operating in Ayrshire can be confident that the education and training sector matches their ambitions. Meanwhile, businesses thinking of relocating have assurances that a skilled workforce already exists locally, with future generations already in the pipeline.

We are also responding to the need for businesses to be lean and globally competitive by expanding our suite of training in Business Improvement Techniques. Ayrshire can rightly boast both a highly skilled and increasingly productive workforce.

The Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme is at the heart of our offer to businesses in this sector. MAs allow companies to strategically invest in skills and combat the trend of an ageing manufacturing workforce that is seen across Scotland. The high quality of education and training we provide ensures that cohorts of MAs make a positive difference to the productivity and culture within the business. Indeed, most aerospace companies we work with recognise these advantages and have expanded their apprentice intakes over the last few years.

Opportunities are improved through partnerships with our local businesses and stakeholders. We are constantly engaging with businesses, directly and via partnerships such as Prestwick Aerospace and the Ayrshire Engineering Alliance, to establish their needs now and in the future. Through this continued engagement, we are able to invest our resources correctly, ensuring that we provide the right skills, in the right place at the right time. This engagement ensures that we can add elements to our programmes, such as Part 66 Aircraft Maintenance Licensing tuition and CAA exams, that are of real and immediate benefit to local businesses.

Local people are getting local jobs and, not just that, high value jobs too. Around 90% of our apprentice intake in 2016-17 was from local education, with 60% from an Ayrshire College course. These courses are specifically designed to align to job opportunities. Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce strategy calls for more job recruitment directly from education and that is what we are achieving. As well as apprenticeship programmes, we are helping a wide variety of people find employment. Our employability courses are helping retrain unemployed engineers into jobs as sheet-metal workers for the aircraft maintenance industry and graduates from our full-time courses are also being recruited as trainee mechanics.

We are helping create the workforce of the future by giving school pupils access to inspirational programmes. Mission Discovery gave 200 young people from across Ayrshire the opportunity to be trained and truly inspired by NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts. Sponsored by the Ayrshire College Foundation, the 5-day event will ultimately see a pupil project being carried out on the International Space Station. Young people can now see the exciting jobs that are on their doorsteps. We have started offering the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering this year, supporting senior stage school pupils to expand their vocational skills and giving them access to our local industry.

A global business sector needs a world class training environment and that is what we provide. Our Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre opened in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength. Further investment in an upgraded composites materials laboratory has ensured we are providing world class training in advanced manufacturing and repair, to the latest standards. Recent courses in this technology have seen delegates from around Europe attend and raise their skills level. Our new £53 million campus in Kilmarnock is an exceptional learning environment equipped with the latest technology to extensively support engineering and manufacturing companies.

Our work doesn’t stop when people find employment. Far from it. We continue to work with our local companies to ensure their current workforce has the correct skills they need to prosper, whether it be in composite technology, business improvement or management skills to name but a few. Firstly, this helps increase the opportunities for Ayrshire’s workforce to reach their personal career aims. Secondly, it helps business sustainability and, hopefully, aids growth. Thirdly, the combination of these two elements will create the entry level opportunities for the next generation of apprentices and graduates, creating a truly virtuous cycle.

A diverse workforce is key to future success and is something we are committed to for the benefit of our communities and businesses. Current recruitment patterns to aerospace apprenticeships and full-time college courses still show a major gender imbalance with more than 90% being male. This creates a talent pool that is vastly reduced in size which sees females have a lack of opportunity to access high value jobs. Ultimately, a reduced talent pool can have a knock-on effect for business productivity also. We work hard alongside our business partners to challenge gender stereotyping and other equality issues and our This Ayrshire Girl Can campaign won the Herald Diversity award for Best Marketing and Social Issues Campaign.

 

Meet the Apprentice – Eva Mackie, EGGER (UK) Limited, Barony Plant

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

Last up this week, we have Eva Mackie from EGGER (UK) Limited.


2.JPGEva was a dental nurse for four years before becoming an Environmental Laboratory Technician Apprentice with EGGER (UK) Limited at the Barony plant in Auchinleck, Ayrshire.

She began her apprenticeship in August 2016 and is delighted to have made the decision to change career paths when she did.

Eva, 22, said: “I just fancied a total change. I was bored, I didn’t like my job anymore and when I saw this opportunity I thought ‘I like the sound of that’.

“After my first day here, I remember going home and thinking to myself ‘oh no, what have I done’. From the second day onwards, however, that completely changed.  I’ve learned so much and would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.”

EGGER (UK) Limited’s, Barony plant is a modern, hi-tech chipboard plant which employs over 115 people.

The company has a well-developed apprenticeship scheme, and recruits mechanical and electrical apprentices annually.  However, this is the first time they have employed a laboratory apprentice.

Eva said; “Everyone on the site knows that I’m the first apprentice in the lab, so they always go out of their way to help me. I can ask anybody anything.

“My job involves testing the different surfaces, which I test for moistures, densities and sieves. We get samples every day from the water outlet at the front of the factory, which we are testing for ammonium, formaldehyde, COD and phosphate. We run these tests to ensure we are within the regulations with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

“I see this as a long term career with a stable and sustainable company. There are plenty of opportunities to develop, gain extra training and progress my career.”

Eva is supervised by Wendy Cumming, Quality and Environmental Controller, who Eva calls “a massive help”.

Wendy said; “Eva is a breath of fresh air who is keen and quick at learning, which is important in this job as no two days are ever the same. It’s good to see another female in the production area too.

“Apprenticeships are very important. This is the first year we have had a lab apprentice and it is great to see the Barony apprenticeship scheme developing. In order to support succession planning we need the apprentices of today to undertake our specialist roles of tomorrow, to be more diverse and ultimately they are the future of EGGER.”

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part three

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

It’s now day three of the series and Catriona attends an exciting training course to enhance her skills on LinkedIn. Here’s how she got on.

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Tuesday pic

Normally on a Tuesday I attend a HNC Administration and IT class. In the morning I learn how to use spreadsheets and databases and in the afternoon I learn about office administration. The course has really helped me develop my computing skills for working in the office and would be a great course for anyone looking to get into an administration role. If you fancy it, applications are open for August start: http://ow.ly/nAoI309t7ml

However, today I’m not at my college class because the marketing team is on a LinkedIn training course. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service and I have been learning more about how to use it to its maximum potential. It seems to be a really useful tool for business and to raise your own profile online. This is another reason I love my job, I’m constantly learning new things and more than often they are skills that are transferable to other roles.

The training today was delivered by Gary Ennis from NS Design, it was really enjoyable and I have learned lots about how to use LinkedIn. We covered the benefits of using LinkedIn, how to optimise your own profile and I now have a clearer understanding of how to integrate LinkedIn to an overall digital marketing strategy which is really useful for my job.

For the last hour of work, Jennifer has asked me to write and schedule some posts for International Women’s Day which is on Wednesday, 8 March. This ties in nicely with another project I am currently working on, a network called Ayrshire Connects. Ayrshire Connects is a network which aims to connect females studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects across the College. So far, we have had meetings and lunches, and the students visited the University of Glasgow to meet with its female engineering society, FemEng. You can read about that visit here: https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/ayrshire-connects-university-of-glasgow-visit/

My final job of the day was to email the photographer I am meeting with tomorrow to confirm times and meeting points. Read my blog tomorrow to find out about an exciting photo shoot I have planned.

 

Meet the apprentice – Tracey Govan, GE Caledonian Ltd

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

Next is 30-year-old Tracey Govan who is an Apprentice Fitter with GE Caledonian Ltd.

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GE Caledonian at Prestwick is an aeronautical engine overhaul facility, providing services for aviation engines and components as well as avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for aircraft.

Tracey worked in a large supermarket for eleven years, before a change in company structure made her consider her future.  Tracey left the supermarket to pursue her dream career.

Tracey said ”I wanted to completely change my career and do something different.  I’d always liked being hands-on, doing anything that involved a bit of skill, and I like learning new things.  I decided to go back to college, which to be honest, is the best thing I could have done.”

Now she’s in the second year of an apprenticeship following a year studying Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course Ayrshire College.

“I found that being on the PEO course was a great way to be considered for an apprenticeship, it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.  Since I had already done one year on the PEO course, I went straight to being a second year apprentice at GE Caledonian Ltd.

I’m an Apprentice Fitter which means that I work on different sections on the shop floor, working alongside a colleague.  In my three years here, I’ll get to work in all of the sections.

The job is very hands-on, working to manuals – whatever repairs that the customer requires with their particular engine, I work alongside a mechanic and do what’s required.

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My favourite part of working as an apprentice is the variety.  No day is the same, even if you’re in the same section, there’s always a different part of the job to learn, whether that is repairs, upgrades or working with single item components.  I work with different people on a weekly basis, due to shift patterns, so I get to meet everyone and learn different skills from them.

I go to college 2 days a week, and next year it’ll be 1 day a week.  The benefit of being an apprentice is that you can put the theory you learn at college into practice and learn as you go.  Actually being involved in the work is great.  I’ll get a recognised qualification as well as trade papers.

It’s amazing the opportunities that are out there working for a multinational company like GE Caledonian.  Once I finish my apprenticeship, I’d like to continue working for GE Caledonian, the opportunities are definitely there.

#ScotAppWeek17

#thisayrshiregirlcan

 

 

 

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part two

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

Here is what she got up to today!


8.20am – I arrive at the College and head up to the office, my start time is 8.45am but I like to get in, switch on my computer and make a coffee before settling down to my work.

9.00am – First thing I’ll do is check my emails and my diary to plan my day. I keep a daily journal of all the work I complete. I can use this for evidence for my portfolio which is how I am assessed during my apprenticeship. I write down what goals I want to achieve that particular day and tick them off as I go along.

10.30am – On a Monday, we have our Digital Team meeting. We discuss upcoming events that we need to promote, what needs to be updated on the website, where we are with new campaigns and projects, what social media posts have been scheduled and our plan for the plasma screens throughout the three campuses. During the meeting, I discuss what videos I have uploaded to the College website and what blogs are being promoted that week.

monday-pic-digital-marketing-team-meeting

12.00pm – Today we have a Supplier Networking Lunch for people who the Marketing Team work closely with, photographers and press etc. It is a chance to build relationships, learn about new media opportunities and network.  It is being hosted in Kilmarnock Campus restaurant, Salt & Barrel (www.saltandbarrel.co.uk). Myself and Jennifer, Digital Marketing Officer sat beside Ruth Blakely and Gerry Cassidy from Word on The Street Magazine. Lunch was delicious as always!

2.30pm – I gave the invited guests a tour of the new Kilmarnock Campus after lunch. The new building opened in October and it’s nice to get the chance to show it off.

4.00pm – For the last hour today I uploaded images to Instagram, I have been given responsibility for creating content for this app. I then scheduled some social media posts on the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge (a challenge to get as many people as possible commuting to work by walking, cycling, public transport and lift-sharing). Ayrshire College staff can sign up here: https://scotland.getmeactive.org.uk.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow because I am going on a training day with my team. Check back here to find out how I get on.

#ScotAppWeek17

#thisayrshiregirlcan

Tackling gender imbalance in colleges and universities – whose job is it anyway?

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) held a workshop on 31 May 2016 to share the findings of research carried out by the Higher Education Academy which mapped the approaches being used to address gender imbalance in Scotland’s colleges and universities, to assess what approaches work best and why. The findings of the research are outlined in a report, Whose Job is it Anyway? Analysis of approaches to tackling gender imbalances at the subject level in Scotland’s colleges and universities.

The aim of the research was to:

  • Map initiatives in Scotland’s colleges and universities to tackle gender imbalances
  • Assess what approaches work best and why
  • Assess what approaches don’t work and understand what lessons can be learned
  • Recommend actions to achieve sustained improvements.

One of the key objectives in Ayrshire College’s 2014-17 Strategic Plan is to challenge gender stereotyping in career and learning choices. Significant efforts have been made on this priority for action over the past two years, and the work the College is doing to tackle gender imbalance in subject areas like care, engineering and computing was referenced extensively throughout the Higher Education Academy report.

At the workshop representatives from colleges, universities, NUS Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Equate Scotland, the Equality Challenge Unit and the College Development Network heard presentations from Fiona Burns, Access Policy Lead at SFC and from the author of the research report, Dr Pauline Hanesworth from the Higher Education Academy.

Vice Principal Jackie Galbraith, a member of the SFC Gender Steering Group, took part in the workshop, along with Angela Alexander, Ayrshire College Student President and Jane Henderson, the College’s Developing the Young Workforce Manager.

In this article, Jackie outlines the challenges we are trying to address, summarises the conclusions of the report and describes the approach taken by Ayrshire College to tackling gender imbalance.


The context and the challenge

In June 2016, statistical publications from Skills Development Scotland (Modern Apprenticeship Statistics Full Year Report 2015/16) and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (Annual Statistics Report 2015) demonstrated that there is still much to do to address gender imbalance in Modern Apprenticeship frameworks, college courses and subject qualifications at school.

Scotland’s youth employment strategy, Developing the Young Workforce, has a KPI (key performance indicator) to reduce the number of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks with a 75:25 or worse gender balance to 60% of  frameworks by 2021. In 2015/16, 74% of MA frameworks had a gender balance of 75:25 or worse.

For colleges, one of the KPIs is to increase by five percentage points the minority gender share in each of the ten largest and most imbalanced subjects by 2021. These are long-term targets which rely on shifting deeply ingrained social and cultural factors. As an illustration of the challenge, look at female and male entries to Higher National Certificates/Diplomas in 2015.  The challenge continues at university and the following diagram, based on figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency published in February 2016, shows that the numbers of female graduates in areas like the physical sciences, computing and the built environment declined in 2015 compared to the previous year.


So, we have a problem. At a time when high quality, high value jobs abound in sectors like digital, the built environment and engineering, these industries persistently fail to attract women – despite considerable efforts by many employers and others to address this. Similarly, jobs growth in the early years sector is clear and the value of having more men in that sector is increasingly understood – yet the number of males continues to be low.

Enter the Scottish Funding Council’s gender action plan.

The SFC Gender Action Plan 

Fiona Burns outlined the ambitions set out in the Scottish Funding Council’s interim Gender Action Plan which was published in February 2016. By 2020, SFC is asking all colleges and universities to ensure that:

  • Actions to improve gender equality are mainstreamed
  • There are targeted approaches to tackling underrepresentation at a subject level
  • All widening participation initiatives will be focused on achieving more admissions from males and females.

By 2030, SFC is asking all colleges and universities to ensure that no subject has an extreme gender imbalance (75:25) and universities to reduce the gap between males and females in undergraduate study to five percentage points.

Fiona invited workshop participants to identify the key messages from the report that are of most useful in tackling gender imbalances, and what the SFC should do to enable the sectors to use the research to shape policy and practice. The outcomes from discussions on the day will inform the final version of the Gender Action Plan which is due to be published later in the summer.

Research findings

Dr Pauline Hanesworth presented the findings and recommendations of the research project, describing a framework of action. Seven themes for tackling gender imbalance effectively emerged in the research. These were:

  1. Strategic approaches – adopt a stronger strategic oversight that could maximise staff capacity and impact potential
  2. Mechanisms for success – capitalise on existing mechanisms
  3. Evidencing impact – develop understanding of what the results of tackling gender imbalances look like
  4. External enablers – connect to external activity
  5. Student involvement – support for the continuity and capacity of students as partners in tackling gender imbalances
  6. Cross-sector support – colleges and universities learning from each other’s specific experiences and expertise
  7. Subject focus – focus on all subject imbalances.

A framework for action, represented in the diagram below, was offered for consideration.


At the centre of the framework is a commitment to support subject choice and challenge gender stereotypes. Two foundations are required to support this commitment – institutional infrastructure and sector support.

1. Institutional infrastructure

  • Systems for strategic oversight and institutional commitment
  • Staff development and resource support
  • Mechanisms to develop and support effective relationships.

2. Sector support

  • Mechanisms for collaborative partnership working
  • Capacity and finance
  • Further research and resources.

Supporting these foundations are four areas of focus:

  1. Influencing the influencers
  2. Raising awareness and impacting on aspirations
  3. Encouraging applications
  4. Supporting student success

Finally, a number of enablers in the outer circle of the framework diagram were identified to ensure successful application of the model.

The main recommendations in the report are that colleges and universities should:

1. Develop institutional commitment to tackle student gender participation imbalances

2. Develop the capacity and motivation of all staff to tackle student gender participation imbalances

3. Adopt a theory of change methodology for the development of approaches

4. Develop holistic and longitudinal approaches that support young people throughout their educational choice process

5. Adopt a multi-pronged approach that combines the four areas of focus described above

6. Support student involvement in approaches through the development of student-led, student/staff co-created and student-delivered initiatives

7. Work in collaboration with other institutions and in partnership with other sectors

In addition, national sector agencies are encouraged to:

8. Develop a national campaign and strategy for tackling of gender inequality

9. Create a virtual and physical hub of and for practitioners tackling student gender participation imbalances

10. Broaden the remits of sector agencies and organisations to support the gender equality work of colleges and universities


The Ayrshire College approach

So, whose job is it to tackle gender imbalance in college and university courses? The Higher Education Academy report reached the conclusion that it is all of our jobs.

We agree, and well before this research was conducted we were already making progress on the recommendations subsequently outlined for colleges. Tackling inequalities underpins all of the College’s strategic documents including our Outcome Agreement and our work to address gender imbalance in careers and learning choices takes many forms.

Sparking an interest in STEM at a young age is very important and the College does this in a range of ways, for example by supporting Primary Engineer in primary schools, by running CoderDojo coding clubs (including girls-only clubs) for young people from the age of 7 and by organising STEM workshops for female pupils in college campuses. This interest in STEM needs to be sustained throughout primary and secondary school and onto college, and influencing those who influence young people’s subject and career choices is vital. For example, at our recent annual employers’ dinner the theme was tackling gender stereotypes in careers.

Central to our approach to tackling gender imbalance is working with students and we support the Ayrshire College Student Association’s  #ThisAyrshireGirlCan campaign to encourage women to study for careers which are traditionally dominated by men in areas like engineering, technology and construction. In March 2016, in partnership with the College, the Student Association created a film to celebrate female STEM students.

Working in partnership with local, regional and national organisations is important in tackling gender imbalance and underpins the Ayrshire College approach. Supported with funding from Skills Development Scotland, we produced a video series #WhatIActuallyDo to tackle gender imbalance in STEM apprenticeships by raising awareness of what apprentices actually do in their jobs. The short films featured five female engineering apprentices working in Hyspec Engineering, GSK, Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance, Spirit Aerosystems and Woodward. As well as interviews with the apprentices on what motivated them to pursue their chosen career and short films showing a day in the life of the apprentice, there are interviews with their employers talking about the benefits of apprenticeships to their companies.

The young women in these short films offer positive role models for others. One of the apprentices featured in the video series, Abbie Robb, reached the final for the Interconnect Scotland STEM Student of the Year award – the only apprentice and college student to do so! On International Women’s Day this year, Abbie spoke about her experience as an apprentice aircraft engineer to an audience of over 100 primary and secondary school girls and female STEM students.

When young women embark on STEM courses, we want to ensure they get the best possible experience which builds their confidence in moving on after college in the sector of their choice. On Monday 13 June we launched Ayrshire Connects – a mentoring network for female STEM students across the College to connect to each other, to students in other colleges and universities, to employers and women in the industry sectors they aspire to enter, and to senior pupils in secondary schools across Ayrshire. We are looking forward to working with Equate Scotland to connect the Ayrshire network to Interconnect Scotland.

ayrshire connects

Throughout the year, the College takes every opportunity to promote women in STEM by organising events and social media campaigns, for example around Girls in ICT Day in April every year and Ada Lovelace Day in October. Look out for new stories on our blog leading up to National Women in Engineering Day (#NWED16) on 23 June.

And, it’s not just about supporting women in male-dominated areas – we also have sustained activity to encourage boys and men into female-dominated sectors like care through our #ThisManCares campaign.

Follow us on social media to find out more about how we are tackling gender imbalance or get in touch with me at jackie.galbraith@ayrshire.ac.uk – we would love to hear from you.


Want to know more? Click on the links below

Whose Job is it Anyway? Higher Education Academy report

SFC Interim Gender Action Plan

Alison Malcolm, SFC Policy Officer – blog post on the SFC Gender Action Plan

#ThisManCares – Ayrshire College campaign to attract men into courses and careers in care

#ThisAyrshireGirlCan – Ayrshire College Student Association campaign to promote women in STEM

#WhatIActuallyDo – Ayrshire College video campaign highlighting female apprentices in science and engineering

#WhatIActuallyDo

Ayrshire College is committed to tackling gender stereotyping in career and learning choices. Here is a summary of some of our recent work on this and what’s coming next.


During Scottish Apprentice Week 2016 we featured stories on our blog from female apprentices working in Ayrshire. We are sure that their stories will inspire other young people to consider a career in engineering and science.

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On International Women’s Day 2016, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP visited Ayrshire College to launch the #ThisAyrshireGirlCan film. The video was the brainchild of the college’s inspirational Student President Angela Alexander, and features 22 female students and apprentices forging careers in science, technology and engineering.

Today is the start of British Science Week which runs from 11-20 March. It’s an exciting programme of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) events and activities across the UK for people of all ages.

British Science Week provides another great platform to raise awareness of exciting careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and a great opportunity to launch our newest campaign – #WhatIActuallyDo.

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Supported by funding from the Skills Development Scotland’s Equality Challenge Fund, the #WhatIActuallyDo campaign aims to improve the perception of careers in STEM by school pupils. We aim to dispel myths about what jobs in the industry actually are and raise the aspirations of young women to seek apprenticeships within the sector.

We’ve been working with employers to showcase young female apprentices and find out what they actually do in their jobs. We’ve created ‘a day in the life’ videos of apprentices from Spirit Aerosystems, Hyspec Engineering, Woodward and Ryanair – as well as interviews and blog posts giving us an insight into why they chose this career and what they love about their job as well as their hopes for the future.

You can access all of these videos here:

https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUVXqS_S-92li8isnJYNM8C7Z-IrwO9d6

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP on #ThisAyrshireGirlCan

On International Women’s Day 2016 the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, visited the Kilwinning Campus of Ayrshire College to launch the #ThisAyrshireGirlCan film. The video was the brainchild of the college’s inspirational Student President, Angela Alexander, and features 22 female students and apprentices forging careers in science, technology and engineering.

Here is what the First Minister said to the 100 Ayrshire primary and secondary school pupils and students who attended the film premiere.


 
It’s fantastic to join so many other Ayrshire girls to celebrate International Women’s Day, and to launch this hugely worthwhile initiative.

And thanks also to Abbie and Adele, for providing such great role models of young women in science. There are many others. Last year’s modern apprentice of the year for the whole of Scotland was Laura Black, who is an engineer for BAE systems on the Clyde. 12 of the 18 Science Festivals in Scotland are run by women. I’m fortunate enough to meet excellent female apprentices, researchers, employees and managers on visits to colleges, universities and factories across Scotland. 

They follow a distinguished history of women in science in Scotland. You might have seen that the Royal Bank of Scotland recently decided to put Mary Somerville on its new £10 banknotes. She was a nineteenth century astronomer from Jedburgh, whose work was very influential in leading to the discovery of planet Neptune. She now has a crater on the moon named after her.

But despite that history, and the many modern examples and role models we see in Scotland, women are still seriously underrepresented in science and engineering. For example in Engineering and Energy related modern apprenticeships last year, 96% of new starts were male.

That’s not a reflection of any lack of talent or ability. It’s a reflection of the fact that there are incredibly talented and resourceful girls and young women who for some reason – whether it’s the advice they receive, the stereotypes they see in the media, or the role models they have available to them – decide not to choose subjects and careers they’re very well suited to.

That limits their opportunities as individuals. And it also holds Scotland back as a nation.

It’s worth thinking about some of the work in Scotland which depends on science, technology, engineering or maths. The engineering work required to complete the new Queensferry Crossing over the Forth; the research taking place into offshore wind, wave and tidal power in Scotland; the developments in life sciences being pioneered in educational research facilities and in manufacturing plants; the work of our digital media and hi-tech companies.  

The people who are working on those projects are boosting our economic growth, and they’re also making a big difference to people’s quality of life.

For example I visited the Glaxosmithkline plant at Irvine two weeks ago. The expansion of the facility there will apparently enable them to produce antibiotics for an additional 100 million patients every year. Being involved in that, or in energy research, or in manufacturing, is an incredibly worthwhile thing to be doing.

So we need many more talented people to go into these areas in the future.

And we want half of them to be young women. Scotland won’t be as successful as it can be, if we continue to underuse the talent and potential of half of our population.

That’s why the Scottish Government has supported the Careerwise programme – which encourages women to take up modern apprenticeships in careers related to science, technology, engineering and maths, and which offers female undergraduates high quality work placements.

It’s also why tackling gender segregation is an important part of our implementation plan for developing Scotland’s young workforce.

And it’s why I’m delighted to support this initiative. No girl in Ayrshire – or anywhere else – should be put off from their ambitions by preconceived ideas.

It’s important that everyone understands that you can study science, technology, engineering and maths. You can take up jobs in in medical research, energy or aeronautics, and in digital media. For science and for engineering – as for any area in life – if you have the ability, and if you work hard enough, you can achieve your dreams.

And by doing that, you can have a great career, and you can make a positive difference to the world around you.

That’s the message that this video is designed to put across. It’s one which is well worth supporting. So I commend Ayrshire College for launching this initiative. And I wish all of you all the best for the future.  


Watch the #ThisAyrshireGirlCan video