EDF Energy, an integrated energy company in the United Kingdom, launched a program called “Pretty Curious” to encourage more girls to participate in Science. Surprisingly,this program which was aimed for girls was won by a 13-year-old boy, causing an uproar in the online world.
The company defends that the competition was open to all 11 to 16-year-olds in “the interests of fairness,” according to The Telegraph
“Our Pretty Curious campaign aims to change that by sparking the imagination of young girls, inspiring them to stay curious about the world around them, and continue pursuing science-based subjects at school – and in their careers.”
The winner’s idea was for a games controller which harnesses kinetic energy from thumb action using wind-up triggers. Three of the four runners-up, whose ideas included smart curtains, a smart fridge and a sleep monitor, were submitted by girls, according to the BBC
“We were really impressed with the ideas which were submitted. It’s exciting to see so many young people getting involved in this type of initiative and engaging with Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths). We hope more young people will be inspired to pursue Stem subjects at school and consider Stem careers in future,” said Amy Edmundson, an electrical maintenance technician at EDF.
The critics slammed the result as an attempt to discourage women to join STEM.
“Congratulations to the winner – but I’d love to hear from EDF how the winning solution meets their stated aim for the competition. It is taking me a bit of time to work out how this result will change girls’ perceptions of Stem,” said Computer scientist Doctor Sue Black OBE
According to the Women in Science and Engineering (Wise) campaign’s latest analysis of the UK labour market statistics, women make up just 12.8 percent of the Stem workforce.The proportion of boys studying science subjects is still considerably higher than the proportion of girls.
The latest Higher Education and Skills Agency (HESA) statistics showed that, in 2013-14, 52 percent of male undergraduates were enrolled on a science course compared to 40 percent of females, according to The Guardian.