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How can we address equality and diversity in the STEM careers context?

In STEM Getting Started we considered the importance of equality and diversity as an underpinning ethos in STEM careers information, advice and guidance. Here we are focussing more on how to address this issue in practice. Our main tool is the Equality and Diversity Tool Kit, designed specifically for anyone giving information, advice and guidance to learners about STEM careers.

assessmentA good place to start is to complete the short Where Are You Now? Self-assessment check list. These six questions will help you determine your own level of knowledge and signpost you to other resources in the tool kit that can help you. On completion we suggest that you add any action points to your STEM Careers Personal Action Plan which can be downloaded here if you don't already have one.

informationIn the Tool Kit there are 11 case studies, listed below, which give useful advice and supporting information on a range of STEM Careers equality and diversity issues. The case studies are presented in a question and answer format. Review this list and choose the two case studies that best meet your needs and read them carefully by clicking on the case study title.

activityUse this Case Study Review document to note down your opinions and reflect on how you could apply the advice and/or resources in your work situation. If you would like to comment directly to the team who run the toolkit, then please use the feedback opportunity on the website's homepage.

Case Study Title Question that the Case Study Answers
Inclusive Role Models 

‘I have just had a group of role models in to talk to pupils - they were all white men over 40! Where can I go for role models that are young, black or female? What do I say when organisations say they haven't got any?’

School Career Coordinator 

Engineering Placements 

‘I have a Muslim girl who wants to do a civil engineering work experience. Where and how can I find a suitable company so that she can convince her mum and dad that she will be treated appropriately and be safe?’

Work experience coordinator 

Girl Friendly Science Lessons

‘How do I ensure my science lesson plans encourage girls as well as boys to think about physics being a suitable subject post-16?’

Science teacher KS3

Disability and Engineering 

‘I have a partially sighted boy who wants to be an engineer. How can I help him find out what is possible - and which universities would provide a supportive environment?’

Personal Development Adviser 

Asian Role Models 

‘All the Asian boys in the class say they want to be doctors or lawyers, probably with encouragement from parents - where are the Asian role models in other STEM related areas?’

Science teacher KS4

Leaving School at 16 

‘All the boys in my form want to leave school at 16 and become plumbers so they can earn lots of money, while the girls want to be famous or qualify as hairdressers. Their parents didn't stay on so why should they? We are an 11-16 school so there is no sixth form. They don't want to stay on to study academic subjects. Where can I go for correct information about qualifications and progression that might convince them to consider other options?’

Y9 Form teacher in West Midlands 

Raising Aspirations of Young Black Men 

‘I work with a small group of black boys. They hate school but are really bright and capable of doing well. Could STEM careers offer them anything?’

Learning mentor 

Working with Families

‘The families of many of my pupils have many life issues to face - and the school is in a very deprived area with high rates of unemployment and social deprivation. I think the school needs to work with families if we are going to support our pupils to study STEM beyond 16. But how do we do that?’

Head of Careers 

Developing Resources 

‘We are redesigning our careers web pages for our site and reviewing what materials we produce for schools. How do we ensure they are inclusive as well as realistic and appealing to young people?’

Careers department

Girls and Mathematics 

‘Most of the girls in my Year 10 maths class tell me they won't continue with mathematics beyond 16 …they say they are not clever enough. While not many are expected to get A* or A grades, most will attain A-C. How do I challenge this perception that maths is for very clever boys? How can I show them that it's not just for nerds?’

Maths teacher 

Inclusion in Enrichment Activities 

‘Our school runs a number of successful enrichment activities that the kids say they enjoy - like after school engineering club, meet a scientist talks, career promotion evenings. I have noticed that the activities are very stereotypical in participation on gender basis - so boys take part in engineering club but few girls do - and our Muslim children do not take part in any after school activity. When I raised this with the Careers coordinator, I was told that anyone was welcome to take part. What can I do to encourage my colleagues and, possibly more importantly, the management team to question things and look at what can be done to be more inclusive?’

Newly Qualified D&T Teacher 










informationThe LMI Future Trends website is an extremely rich source of labour market information, which includes analysis of equality and diversity data in 25 sectors, many of which are relevant to STEM careers. Read this example, which is from the health sector. It gives a picture of the current situation and issues in the sector, which is important labour market information for those delivering STEM Careers.

furtherinfoTaking it further...

    1. The Centre for Science Education has produced a STEM Subject Choice and Careers Table for Good Practice, which covers themes such as publications, role models, events and activities, giving examples of good practice.
    2. The Equality and Diversity Tool Kit provide a comprehensive list of resources to support STEM careers work.
    3. The Tool Kit also has a number of Top Tips for developing teaching resources and for teachers and parents regarding work experience and for work experience placement providers.
    4. The STEM Choices Pack includes a useful activity to encourage learners to explore some of the issues associated with equality and diversity in STEM careers and progression. The Matching the Statisitcs Game can be found on pg 41 of the Starters and Plenaries section.

    chat_iconAdd any comments in the box below or on the STEM Careers Helping Students Get The Message online community group on the National STEM Centre website.

    ForwardMove on to the next section: STEM Moving On Careers delivery