Diversity, STEM and transformation
Mon, 15/08/2016 - 16:00
At BQF, we are very focused on continuous performance improvement and transformation. Many studies have proven that diverse teams produce more innovation, creativity, broader ideas and thus increased performance and better results.
For many UK companies, there is a huge challenge introducing and maintaining diversity within their teams. With many of our members having their core business based on skills in engineering (civil, mechanical and electrical), manufacturing and science they are particularly concerned and challenged.
One area of real focus over the last few years has been the importance of encouraging young females to enter into careers in science and technology (STEM). So BQF has taken to doing something practical with our good friends at Siemens UK. Meet Maisie Parfett, 16 and just awaiting her GCSE results. Hear her story.
Being a 16 year old school girl interested in science and maths seems to be uncommon and I feel as though I’ve had a lack of role models and teaching over the years. I am hoping to do 3 or 4 science related subjects at A level, which seems to be frowned upon greatly by teachers and looked at strangely by my peers, as I am constantly told that it will be too hard.
However, through this initiative by BQF, I was given the opportunity to spend 2 weeks with Siemens UK at its innovation centre, The Crystal in London’s Docklands, to see how science and technology works and how it will help us set down a foundation for sustainable living in the future. This gave me a chance to see science in action.
Over the course of the 2 weeks, I gained new knowledge and expanded on what I already knew about sustainability, our planet, and science in general.
Some of the most important things I learned include how quickly our planet is changing and what we are doing to it, as well as how we can reduce factors causing the problems. Different cities can help each other out, for example, Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, which is extremely bike friendly, is one of the most sustainable cities on Earth. Its vast amount of green and natural spaces also emphasise this, as well as Copenhagen Harbour with water clean enough to swim in and even drink! Other cities like London and Paris (which are very close behind on the sustainable cities list) are inspired by Copenhagen’s ideas and, with the help of research and technology (such as wind turbines) from Siemens, are trying to become as sustainable as they can be.
In addition, I really enjoyed learning about The Crystal itself and why it’s the most sustainable building on the planet. The Crystal’s structure is designed to use the weather to its advantage and to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout. I found it particularly interesting that even the staff incorporate sustainability into their own lives by walking, cycling, using public transport or driving electric cars to work to save resources and reduce pollution. Touring the plant rooms was especially helpful as they allowed me to go behind the scenes and see recycling and heating engineering and technology in a lot more depth.
The Crystal exhibition is open all year round to the public and hosts hundreds of school and educational visits to inspire and encourage young people to become more aware of science and its positive contribution to our environment.
It is very important that young women, like me, are influenced to take STEM subjects as it pervades every part of everybody’s lives on the planet. Science is everywhere around us, and this is why we need more female scientists and engineers to inspire younger generations.
A big thank you to Josh Palmer and the rest of the Siemens team, as well as BQF for providing me with this opportunity.
I’m really looking forward to doing my science A levels in September and perhaps a degree in 2 years time.
BQF’s Networking Event – Diversity
So what else is BQF doing to bring diversity and STEM to the forefront of our minds?
In September, Marianne Culver, ex CEO of TNT, and previously an executive at engineering company, Premier Farnell, is going to be talking about her career and how important diversity has been in her highest performing teams.
She will be joined by Stephen Fox, CEO of BAM Nuttall, from an industry that struggles to attract young diverse talent, especially women, to its ranks despite being a challenging, interesting and global industry.
BQF is committed to diversity, as is Siemens and BAM Nuttall. How is your company going to attract Maisie and her friends in 5 years time as they leave university? Let us know via email.