It’s 2018: Why are we still talking about getting girls into STEM?

More respect for teachers, “real models, not role models” and telling children that there are more scientific careers than just medicine are some of the measures we need to take to get more girls into STEM subjects, according to Dr Jessica Wade, physicist at Imperial College London, and member of the WISE Young Women’s Board and Women in Engineering Council.

Dr Wade, who is appearing at In Conversation: Getting Girls Into Science at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Manchester, on Thursday, wrote on the museum’s blog about the steps that were needed to encourage girls into science subjects other than chemistry.

Pointing out that the necessity of chemistry for studying medicine means the gender split for that subject at A-level is roughly 50:50, Dr Wade identified the lack of specialist physics and maths teachers as an issue, along with parents whose own “fear of physics” is passed on to their children.

In the blog, Dr Wade recommends that to increase STEM uptake in girls: “Instead of targeting outreach to children and young people, scientists, engineers and tech-experts could target their efforts toward teachers and parents. Invite parents to lectures, work with community groups not classrooms and always make sure to speak to staff if you’re visiting a school.”

Other recommendations include teachers giving early-career researchers as role models alongside Nobel laureates, scientists working across disciplines, and societies joining up to work together – and sharing information about what doesn’t work.

At the event on Thursday, a panel of specially selected guests will discuss the opportunities and challenges that women face in STEM careers. Alongside Dr Wade will be journalist, broadcaster and reporter Sonali Shah, ScienceGrrl Director Dr Heather Williams and Managing Director of Revealing Reality research agency, Damon De Ionno.

Sonali Shah says, “As someone who was obsessed with science at school and studied it until A Level, I’m very much looking forward to celebrating women in STEM, having an honest and open debate about how the gender gap within the sector can be closed, and meeting some potential STEM leaders of the future.”

Damon De Ionno says, “I’ve always been passionate about STEM and through our research we’ve gathered a lot of real life evidence of the ways in which young women’s career opportunities or aspirations can be limited – or expanded. I’m looking forward to discussing how we can take action for change.”

Tickets for the In Conversation event are free. To book, visit