Getting into STEM: A valuable sector

Published: 24 Oct 2016

Microbiologist image

The STEM sector has in recent years, both in UK and US, been pushing for more women to join. This is owing to the fact that, unfortunately, there is a bias against women in these fields leading to a lack of representation from those who could add serious value to the sector.

Innovations in elements of STEM, both separately and where they intersect, have a history of making huge changes in the world; from allowing mankind to walk on the moon to the advent of artificial intelligence. And if these subjects are going to continue to lead to such innovations, then it is vital that they are taught to and by both genders.

Here are three fields in which the STEM sector needs more FE staff right now.

STEM teaching

There’s been a shortage of science and maths teachers for over 30 years, but each area of STEM would benefit from having more active lecturers in the field. This sector would especially suit those who have previously worked outside of the education industry who can draw on practical skills and experience in their teaching.

There are several different course options available for FE teacher training, and the training can also happen within the school as you work. Even though the requirement for further education teachers to be formally qualified as such was revoked in 2013, providers of FE training are independent organisations so they might still have their own eligibility criteria.

STEM Assistants and Technicians

An assistant or technician role in STEM at a further education level would be ideal for those with a strong understanding of the sector but aren’t sure they want to teach.

Many assistant roles involve supporting the students, motivating them to develop their STEM skills, and helping to build their confidence to participate.

Most STEM technician roles will require that you have some experience within the relevant field, often in addition to experience working in a lab environment. The job will involve supporting the teacher/lecturer with the practical elements of teaching a STEM subject. You will likely also need strong organisational skills, because technicians are often in charge of maintaining, setting up, and storing all of the relevant class equipment.

These support roles allow you work with interested young people without having to manage the full responsibility of a teaching role.

Leadership Roles in STEM

It is not just teaching and other practical skills roles that need filling in the STEM sector; STEM also needs more curriculum managers and department leaders, in addition to more workers on the management side, to help with the running of courses. These kinds of roles would be ideal for someone with a gift for macro thinking - to compliment the more micro thinking of the teachers and the lecturers.

Not only is having women in STEM leadership roles important in and of itself, but seeing women in these roles may help encourage more young women and girls who are interested in pursuing roles in STEM to take their interest further.


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