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Social engineering, women’s football and STEM

Social engineering, women’s football and STEM

Posted on 24th June 2019

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This blog asks one, simple question.  But first…

Last week, we held a well-attended and extremely interesting event at ComputerShare in Edinburgh, on the subject of Women in Stem.  It was held the night after the Scottish women’s football team had drawn with Argentina and thus been eliminated from the Women’s World Cup.  While coincidental, these two events got me thinking…

  1. After the Scottish women’s football team qualified for the European Championships in 2017, the numbers of women/girls playing the sport increased by 46%.  In 2019, after our brief but enjoyable participation in the women’s World Cup, I would be surprised if there was not more interest from young girls in the sport. 
  2. In England, the Football Association says that 147,000 female players now compete in affiliated league and cup competitions, making football the biggest female team sport in that country.
  3. In addition to those “affiliated league and cup competitions,” there are millions of girls and women playing football in the UK. The BBC tells us (July 2017) that “as of September 2014 there were 2.6 million women and girls playing football in England.” 

Perhaps most significantly, when the number of females playing in the affiliated leagues in England was first recorded in 1993, there were only 10,400 women playing football. Although women’s football was moderately popular in the early twentieth century, it was banned by the FA in 1921 and this was not lifted until 1971, when, embarrassingly, the Scottish FA was the only one of the 31 EUFA Associations to vote against formally recognising the women’s game.  Despite this, women’s teams in Scotland formed their own Association, the Scottish Women’s Football Association, and the game started to take off.

This growth might have happened anyway, but let’s not kid ourselves. One of the principal reasons for it is that there has been overt social engineering over the last few years to change the way that women’s football is perceived.  From a joke sport in the eyes of many men, there are now increasing crowds (for some international matches these are bigger than many Scottish Premier clubs can dream of), huge media interest and, most importantly, an opportunity for young girls to take part in a sport that was, within the lifetimes of my parents, banned to them.  Does this ring any bells with tech?

Women’s football is all over the media just now.  The social engineering programmes – from government, the football authorities and the media – have had a massive impact.  Which leads me to my question, which is this:  

If we can use social engineering to increase the profile of women’s football to point at which is makes the front pages and main news items, why can’t we do the same for women and STEM?

I know some of the answers to that question, but not all of them.  What do you think? Why can’t we do the same for women and STEM as we have done for women and football?

Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT

Posted in Opinion, Recruitment News

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