Board member news

Talented women for a successful Wales

Professor Karen Holford FREng, FLSW, CEng FIMechE
Professor Karen Holford FREng, FLSW, CEng FIMechE

Tuesday 8th March marked International Women’s Day, and also the publication of a Welsh Government report on women in STEM, which was co-authored by myself and Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott of Swansea University.

The report made a number of recommendations relating to education, recruitment, retention and promotion.

The title of the report, ‘Talented Women for a Successful Wales’, sums up the fact that when women are prevented from reaching their full potential, it is not only those individuals who lose out, but also society as a whole. When women’s talents are fully supported and promoted, all of us will benefit. This point is particularly relevant in STEM-related study and careers, where women are consistently under-represented.

I am pleased that at Cardiff University we are already taking steps to promote gender equality and encourage women in STEM subjects. We are committed to removing barriers and allowing everyone to succeed, as is demonstrated in our engagement with Athena SWAN. In the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, four of our Schools already have the Athena SWAN Bronze Award and the School of Physics and Astronomy was recently awarded Juno Practitioner status.

We are also active in promoting STEM subjects to young people, particularly young women, through outreach and engagement activity. Last year, we held a STEM Conference for local sixth form students to give them a fresh perspective on science and an insight into university life. We also held a STEM Live event for 12 to 14 year-olds that involved hands-on activities to explore the fun side of science.

Through continuing to take action in these important areas, we can tackle the current gender imbalance that exists in STEM subjects so that there are no limits on the aspirations and achievements of women and girls.