With its acclaimed STEMAspire mentor programme, DELL EMC is aiming to shape and inspire the female movers and shakers of tomorrow . . . 

DEVELOPMENT workshops are to be held in Glasgow next month to help female students of science, technology, engineering and maths prepare for a career in the industry.

The STEMAspire programme is now in its second year in Glasgow and the number of female students taking part has risen from 26 last year to 52 this year.

Research shows that nearly a third of women who begin a course in STEM subjects drop out, switch to another line of study before graduation or pursue a career in a STEM Industry. 

To try to prevent this, DellEMC has developed the STEMAspire programme with the aim of providing female students with skills and support to graduate in their chosen STEM subjects and move on to have a successful career in within the industry.

STEMAspire was brought to Scotland following the project’s successful launch in Cork. 

The initiative comes as Scotland’s IT sector struggles with skills shortages which many expect will be exacerbated by Britain’s exit from the European Union. Industry leaders say there are too few students coming through, particularly females. 

Recent studies found that Scotland needs 140,000 more engineers by 2020, whilst underusing half of the population – this programme is Dell’s way of supporting, in the hope their contributions will help reach that target for Scotland.

This year the company has brought together students from Strathclyde University, City of Glasgow College, University of West of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University and paired them with mentors, who provide monthly 1-2-1 support over the course of 12 months on how to bridge the gap between higher education and a workplace environment.  

Dell EMC help the students to build on their employability skills and show them what a workplace is really like while knocking down common misconceptions.

In addition, the students are able to attend events like the forthcoming workshops being held on Wednesday, February 6th, to help them with their personal development.

One workshop is aimed at enhancing their communication skills with the aim of boosting confidence in this area.  

The second workshop is intended to prepare the mentees for interviews and will give advice about writing CVs. Different types of interview will be looked at, as well as the various questioning techniques used by employers. 

In addition to the workshops, the mentees will hear from Tricia Smyth, the DellEMC EMEA diversity and inclusion lead. With over 15 years’ experience, she is recognised as a collaborative leader who puts a huge value on building trusted relationships.

Mentor John Paul Clark, who has been involved in the STEMAspire mentoring programme in Glasgow since its inception, says it is really helping to build the students’ confidence.

“They sometimes don’t realise what skills they have and how good they are, and I think the programme helps them realise that they are more capable than they think”.

John Paul says his role as a mentor is not to tell his mentees what to do but help them make their own decisions. 

“I wish we’d had something like this when I was growing up as it is fantastic,”. John Paul began mentoring after being encouraged by the company and thoroughly enjoys his role.“I think it is a privilege to give people an idea of what the world of work is like,” he said.
 “Part of it is to show the mentees what I do on a daily basis and give them an idea of how the company works. 

“Being able to bring my mentee into the office gives me the opportunity to introduce them to other people within the business so they can build on their network, which is so important at the initial stages of their career.”

Last year John Paul mentored a physics student and this year he is mentoring a former legal secretary who wants to switch careers into computer coding.

“My job is to listen and be an unbiased sounding board,” he said. “I support and explore their ideas and give constructive feedback.

“This year we have already done an analysis of my mentee’s strengths and we are now looking to start building on her CV. I am also going to organise for her to spend time with our application developers/coders so she can get some real life context,” he said. 

“Hopefully if she has any interviews, the STEMAspire programme will help her prepare for them too.”