Sheffield aims to inspire next generation of female engineers

  • Annual event is hosted by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University in a bid to inspire the next generation of female engineers and scientists
  • The UK’s engineering workforce is currently 94 percent white and 91 percent male
  • Explore STEM for Girls event is a chance for young females to experience the world of science, technology, engineering and maths

School children at STEM for Girls Event

The University of Sheffield, this week (20 March 2018), welcomed 600 local female school pupils to the Octagon Centre to learn about how they can transform the world through science, technology, engineering and maths at the annual Exploring STEM for Girls event.

The Exploring STEM for Girls event is aimed at local female school pupils in a bid to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through a variety of interactive experiments, demonstrations and workshops.

The University of Sheffield is committed to inspiring and encouraging women to pursue an education and career in the engineering industry, an industry in which the engineering workforce is currently 94 percent white and 91 percent male. The event aims, along with other initiatives such as the Wall of Women in the Faculty of Engineering, to urge females across the country to close the gap and create a more diverse engineering workforce.

Dr Gwendolen Reilly, Director of Women in Engineering, Senior Lecturer in Bio Engineering at the University of Sheffield and lead speaker at the event said: “All of us at the University of Sheffield are passionate about encouraging more females to pursue engineering. The Explore STEM for Girls event is just one of the many ways we reach out to the next generation of would-be female engineers.

“The event is a chance for young females to have an immersive experience with STEM subjects and realise that these subjects are exciting, accessible and achievable.”

In collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, the event also gave pupils the opportunity to speak to current University students and staff about their studies, careers and the real life applications of STEM subjects which have helped to make a difference.

School pupiles at STEM for girls event

Helen Walker, Senior Schools and Colleges Engagement Officer at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “It is vitally important that young people, but in particular young women, are encouraged to study STEM subjects and work in these industries. Everyone benefits from having a diverse workforce, whether that's in the classroom or in the workshops or the boardrooms. Sheffield Hallam, along with our colleagues from the University of Sheffield, are proud to champion women in STEM and to be involved in events such as this.”

Highlights from the day included:

  • A popcorn machine to demonstrate the chemical engineering process involved in food manufacture
  • A 15 metre span cable-stayed bridge which attendees were able to walk over, demonstrating the power and simplicity of civil engineering
  • Robotic demonstrations from the Computer Science department
  • A scalextric race track which school pupils were able to use to experience electrical and electronic engineering

Read more about women in engineering at the University of Sheffield

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


The National STEM Learning Network is the largest provider of STEM education and careers support to schools, colleges and other groups working with young people across the UK.

Supported by a unique partnership of Government, charitable trusts and employers, the Network is dedicated to raising young people’s engagement and achievement in STEM, and increasing the numbers of young people progressing in STEM studies and into STEM-related careers post-16.


For further information please contact:

Mary Hickey
Media and Communications Officer
0114 2221034