A youth charity is rolling out digital clubs for girls in a bid to get more young girls and young women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.
YMCA hopes their innovative code clubs in Scotland will debunk the myth that Stem is for boys and help girls pick up skills that will help them become the next generation of digital experts.
At the weekly clubs girls age eight up to 16 tap into creativity and design through science and cutting-edge tech, from making musical instruments to designing interactive virtual reality environments.
YMCA Paisley developed the first Stem club for girls in 2018 after research found boys made up over ninety per cent of their digital workshops.
It’s the first time the YMCA has delivered a gender-based project. Darran Gillan, youth and programme development manager for YMCA said: “Girls tap into talents they never knew they had. Sometimes that they have never seen the tech and it blows their mind. They get to create and design their own ideas.
“Girls tell us they don’t worry boys might tell them they are getting it wrong.”
YMCA also delivers Stem workshops as part of the curriculum and majority of high schools reported girls’ take-up of science and tech subjects drops significantly after S2. Darran said, “We are helping plug gaps in resources by tackling that motivational aspect. We show them that Stem is fun and also they get to see the practical applications of what they make.”
Following the success of the pilot in Paisley, the clubs have already doubled to two every week. YMCA Scotland and partners Girlguiding Scotland hope to set up a digital hub in other cities.
Recent research from Girlguiding Scotland revealed that 52 per cent of girls aged 11-21 thought Stem subjects were more for boys.
Denise Spence, chief executive at Girlguiding Scotland, said: ‘We know that women continue to be under-represented within Stem roles with our research showing that just a third of girls would consider a job in technology. I hope this will inspire a whole generation of girls to make the most of their digital future.”
The proportion of female pupils taking computing-related courses equivalent to Standard Grade declined from 32 per cent in 2012 to 18 per cent in 2018.
Last year, the Scottish Government pledged to increase the number of Stem teachers in schools by 2022 as studies continue to flag a lack of curiosity and interest in Stem disciplines amongst secondary school pupils, particularly among girls.