Nationwide marks Ada Lovelace day by encouraging female pupils to take up STEM subjects

13 October 2015

Nationwide Building Society is encouraging more female students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and pursue careers in similar fields.

On Ada Lovelace Day (October 13) – a day of international celebration of the achievements of women in STEM – more than 200 female school pupils visited Nationwide’s offices in Swindon, Northampton, Bournemouth and London, to find out more about STEM roles. The aim is to change the way this field is perceived by giving them the opportunity to hear from female employees talking about their careers and STEM roles within the world of financial services.

Swindon pupils visited Nationwide’s new Innovation Lab and found out more about how the team is developing and testing new technology, so customers can use the latest digital innovations to access Nationwide’s services.

Rowena Harwar, Head of Programme Architecture at Nationwide, who started off her career on the Nationwide Graduate Scheme, commented: “We want to challenge the stereotype that jobs involving science, technology, engineering and maths are male dominated careers. We have plenty of women at Nationwide who use their STEM-based degrees every day, often in surprising roles. We want to share these with local female pupils so they too can challenge these stereotypes and contemplate a career path which they may not have considered before. This event is about shifting perceptions and marking the day with local pupils by celebrating Ada Lovelace – a pioneer in the technology field.”

According to a report carried out by the University and Colleges Admissions Services in January this year1, women are underrepresented in certain STEM-related careers. It found that more than 85% of candidates on engineering or computer science courses in 2014 were men. Also, in research carried out last year2 by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), it was found that although women do represent 46% of the labour market, only 13% are STEM professionals.

Mrs Wills, a teacher of Technology and Engineering at Nova Hreod Academy in Swindon, commented: “It is great that Nova Hreod are involved in the Ada Lovelace Day at Nationwide, as it is a good opportunity for students to experience the diverse career options available through STEM subjects. I feel that it is important to encourage more female students into STEM subjects as many do not realise the full potential of careers that STEM subjects can lead to. Days like the Ada Lovelace Day break down barriers and show girls the possibilities available.”

Isabelle, aged 13 and a student who currently attends Nova Hreod Academy, commented: “I would like to be either a mechanical or chemical engineer. There are more men than women in STEM careers, but there are lots of successful women in engineering and maths. I do not think that STEM subjects should be seen as male careers.”

Notes to Editors

Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired others. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM. Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration, with the first official event held in 2010, and events today are held all over the world.

1 University and Colleges Admissions Services

2 Women in Science and Engineering

Swindon schools involved:

  • Churchfields School
  • Swindon Academy
  • Dorcan School
  • Nova Hreod Academy
  • Ridgeway School
  • St Joseph School
  • Highworth Warneford School
  • Kingsdown School
  • Isambard School
  • The Commonweal School

Bournemouth schools involved:

  • Bishop of Winchester Academy
  • Leaf Oak Academy
  • The Bourne Academy

Northampton schools involved:

  • Sir Herbert Leon Academy
  • Walton High School
  • Abbeyfields School
  • Weston Favell Academy
  • Denbigh School

London schools involved:

  • Grey Court School
  • Hewens College
  • Waldegrave School for Girls

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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