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When EDF Energy contacted me to tell me about their #PrettyCurious Campaign, I knew that I had to get involved. Their campaign is one that I want to shout about from the rooftops.
The Aim Of The EDF Energy #PrettyCurious Campaign
In 2015, EDF Energy launched the Pretty Curious campaign to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM. Their ambition was to see 30% of its graduate and apprentice intake being women by 2018. We are now in 2018 and there is still lots of work to do. They may have already exceeded their target in 2017, growing their intake by 35% but the Pretty Curious campaign is still going strong. They are determined to push forward with their mission to encourage girls to pursue STEM-based subjects at school and in their future careers.
What Are EDF Energy Doing Now To Encourage Girls Into STEM?
It’s very exciting, especially for a whole family of Star Wars fans. EDF Energy has partnered up with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Why Star Wars? Star Wars has two inspirational female leads – Rey and Rose. This presents an exciting opportunity to work together as a “force” (as in “may the force be with you”. Sorry, not sorry) to encourage more girls into STEM. Having strong female role models is incredibly important. Yet, History books and society as a whole tends to overlook women’s contributions. This could explain why there is a lack of women in the STEM field. A lack of female role models in STEM could mean that women don’t feel qualified for a role in the profession. They might feel less capable because of stereotyping.
We need to break down those stereotypes through role models that can inspire and encourage. There are many amazing female role models out there but history and fiction often doesn’t feature them. They have become hidden. Star Wars is breaking that mould with inspiring, strong and exciting female leads and EDF Energy is fully on board with that!
What The EDF Energy #PrettyCurious Campaign Means To Us As A Family
As a mother of two girls, I have long voiced my concerns about inequality. I have discussed my dismay at my father’s insistence of addressing my girls as “princess”. Luckily, he seems to have finally listened to my angry protestations every time he used this label and now chooses to use their names, hurrah for miracles. Sadly, my father’s attitude is just reflective of the outdated opinions they will come across in everyday society. There is still so much to do when it comes to opening the doors of equality.
It Starts Young
There was the time a shop assistant told my youngest girl she couldn’t have the pair of shoes she wanted because they had aeroplanes on and that means they are for boys. In our local toyshop, the shelves are zoned according to boys’ interests and girls’ interests, and colour coded accordingly, blue for boys with a picture of a boy, pink for girls, with a picture of a girl. Sadly, they seem to believe that boys are the only ones interested in the science and construction kits and the girls want to play at being homemakers. I can vouch this is not the case in our house. I have two girls who love dressing-up as princesses but they also love playing with racing cars. As I type this, Oldest is putting together one of her Christmas presents, a Technic Kit of a container yard. We have brought both of our girls up to believe that they can play with any toy of their choosing, that they don’t need to be restricted by their gender or what society dictates.
This hasn’t been a conscious decision on our part but we are very aware of the inequalities our girls will face. As a former teacher I am very conscious of how damaging it can be to label and how we shouldn’t be in a hurry to place anyone in a box. However, it’s probably Mr C’s profession that has had the biggest impact on how we raise the girls. He is a structural engineer. Overall, only 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women, and only 13% of the total engineering workforce is made up of women. I, myself, worked in an engineering office before I went to study for my teaching qualification. Yes, this is how Mr C and I met. Whilst I am grateful for my time there because I met Mr C, I was not very keen to stick around working in an engineering office. It was very male dominated and, as such, could be a little sexist at times.
Why Are There Not More Women In The STEM Industry?
That toyshop I spoke about, those labels like princess that we use for girls and place on girls’ t-shirts are gender distinctions that limit girls. These stereotypes might seem harmless but they aren’t. These stereotypes, toys, labels and lack of role models for girls means that girls as young as five think that they aren’t as capable as boys.
How We Can Change
EDF Energy are seeking to inspire girls with their latest Pretty Curious campaign. They want girls to realise they are just as capable as boys so they have united with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Both of my girls are massive Star Wars fans and were extremely keen to get on board when I told them about this campaign. EDF Energy very kindly sent us an amazing LittleBits Droid Inventor Kit.
Oldest relished the challenge and really put her STEM skills to the test. Whilst she was doing this we discussed why we felt there aren’t enough women in the STEM industry. I was really surprised by how Oldest, at only 8 years old, is already aware of society and its stereotypes. She pointed out how on a recent holiday Youngest was constantly praised by strangers for being “beautiful” and “pretty” and how this made Oldest feel. She said that it had made her feel that she wasn’t as good because she wasn’t ever praised for her looks, despite us always telling both of the girls that they are amazing (we don’t praise them on their looks). It made me feel really sad and dismayed that at 8 years-old Oldest was already recognising that a big part of being female is how you look. As a result of this, we discussed how looks aren’t what dictate our future.
It was fascinating to see how the girls worked as a team. They supported each other in what they were doing. When something didn’t work they were happy to carry on tweaking so that they could work out what the problem was. When they had finished their droid they were delighted with their hard work. Oldest, in particular, loved the opportunity to use her problem solving skills. This was great to see as until recently Oldest has been hesitant to try new things for fear of making a mistake. She now realises that making a mistake isn’t a bad thing as it is how we learn. Oldest now feels confident enough to make mistakes. After they had made their droid they took turns driving it. Again, this was something they loved!
We then watched the EDF Energy #PrettyCurious virtual reality film on a Pretty Curious Google cardboard headset. Oldest and Youngest both adored the virtual reality film and found it really fascinating.There were many “wows” and “this is AMAZING”.
I would say that it has now changed Oldest’s outlook on her future. She now feels inspired and excited for what she might choose to do with her future. Best of all, she now sees herself as an equal and realises that it is not all about looks. She realises that it is what we do with our brain that is more important.
How You Can Get Involved
If you would like to get involved or learn more about the EDF Energy Pretty Curious campaign, you can head over to their website to read more about it.
Do you have daughters and, if so, what are your thoughts about girls being underrepresented in the STEM industry?
Let’s make change happen.
“Together we are a force to inspire.”
Disclaimer – Please be aware that this is a paid for post. However, all words and photos are my own. This really is a fantastic campaign!