Serco helps female students see STEM careers in action

Three teenage girls in school uniforms standing in a treatment room with a male health professional
Serco ICT Director Michael Penney with students from Penrhos College
June 4, 2019

Students from Penrhos College will have the opportunity to try their hand at code cracking and hear from women working in science and technology careers as part of a new initiative developed by Serco and BT at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

The Supporting Girls in STEM workshop aims to show students the real-world career pathways that can come from studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Co-facilitated by Serco, BT, and Murdoch University, the full-day event will combine practical exercises and demonstrations with the opportunity to meet women working in the field to discuss the realities of careers in science and technology.

The initiative was developed by Serco ICT Director Michael Penney following a conversation with his daughter, who was in year 10 at Penrhos College at the time.

“My daughter was at the stage of selecting her upper-school subjects and I asked her whether she might be interested in looking at IT pathways,” Michael said.

 “I was surprised that the possibility of working in the field hadn’t even crossed her mind. It got me thinking about how we could help support greater diversity in STEM careers through the work we’re doing at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Michael joined forces with Kate Langdale, Senior Service Delivery Manager at Serco’s ICT partner BT. After conversations with female colleagues and leaders in ICT, they uncovered a common theme.

“None of the women we spoke to set out to have a career in this field; they had come into the profession almost by accident,” Kate said.

“We spoke about how we could help the gender balance and two things became clear: better mentoring and support of women already working in the industry, and understanding what might be inhibiting girls in school from thinking of a career in this field.”

The first of the Supporting Girls in STEM workshops is being delivered at Fiona Stanley Hospital on 27 May. Penrhos College teacher Hannah Fay said students were excited to see first-hand they type of careers that their studies in STEM could lead to.

“It’s an important initiative because it gives students the opportunity to learn about new developments in science and technology and how they are being applied in a practical setting,” she said.

“It’s also great for the students to hear from women who have successfully navigated careers in the field. Their stories can be a powerful teaching tool.”