Throughout the week there has been a continuing theme, gender equality especially in Science and Technology. We cannot ignore how women are choosing not to pursue careers or further education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics). We are making progress but much more has to be done if untapped potential is to go to waste.
EU funds for gender equality report
This week I tabled my report on EU Funds for Gender Equality. In my report I have recognised the huge value of EU funding in this area but I have argued for improvements to the current manner in which the funds are administered and targeted. Gender budgeting should be systematically applied to the EU Budget and the current midterm review of the EU's budget should provide opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the money we spend.
Space conference & exhibition
This week spoke on a panel with Sir Martin Sweeting at the European Parliament's Annual Science Policy lecture, this year on 'a space enabled future for Europe'. It was a pleasure to discuss the future of space policy at such a crucial time for the UK, as it is so integrated into the EU space market. As part of this I was delighted to bring an exhibition from the Twinkle Mission, operated by the Europlanet community of scientists, who are making incredible strides in scientific discovery and engaging students and young people in space science. I took a virtual reality tour of the surface of Mars as part of this exhibition, and discussed with them how we get more young people, especially women and girls, engaged in science and working in the science sector.
I also spoke at the annual EU aeronautics conference, talking about the vital role that UK based companies such as Rolls Royce and Airbus play in the EU aerospace industry. I was particularly keen to emphasise the need to engage more women and girls in this industry, as the panels of experts were somewhat lacking in that regard. This is a theme I discuss frequently in the parliament, and it is a frustrating that it is not taken more seriously in some quarters. Women and girls are, through the design of our education systems and preconceived notions about gender roles, actively discouraged from studying STEM subjects at school. We do ourselves a disservice to our economic growth and societal growth by excluding women and girls from STEM industries.