The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is on a myth-busting mission around Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects with an explosive social media video campaign.

The largest professional engineering institution in the world, encompassing military and civilian engineering, has launched #SmashStereotypesToBits.

The video below features five female engineers turning the idea of a stereotypical ‘pillow fight’ on its head by using their skills in engineering.

"When you think of a pillow fight you probably don't conjure up women engineers launching pillows from rocket launchers and drones dropping pillows that explode on the floor."

The aim is to inspire young people to consider STEM and engineering as a career after only 12% of those surveyed said their current study of these subjects makes them want to pursue it.

The online video backs up research by the IET suggesting there is still a disparity between boys and girls, and other demographic groups, considering a career that draws on STEM subjects.

Forces Radio BFBS Tim Humphries spoke to Jo Foster, the Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the IET about smashing stereotypes. 

“Whilst [engineering] is a heavily male-dominated industry, it is open to everybody, it's for everyone.

"We want to push that message out to women because that's the next largest demographic so it makes sense to engage with them and get the most impact."

Jo Foster Diversity and Inclusion Manager Institution of Engineering and Technology IET Shortage In STEM Students

The IET say it is not just girls discouraged against these subjects, but those identifying as LBGTUA+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Undefined, Asexual)

More than a quarter (29%) of respondents in this demographic opted against having a career in STEM.

“They couldn’t even look at pursuing a career in STEM because they felt they might be discriminated against.”

Air Vice Marshall Sue Gray Chief Engineer to Chief of the Air Staff RAF 100 STEM Champion Tim Humphries Forces Radio BFBS

But could studying STEM subjects now address an engineering shortage in the Armed Forces?

Air Vice Marshall Sue Gray is Chief Engineer to Chief of the Air Staff and an RAF 100 STEM Champion.

“We have a national shortage of engineers and we are not well represented with women and females who have absolutely a role to play."

As the Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary this year, the service would echo the need for future engineers.

The RAF hope to address this shortage in the UK by running a series of school projects with the aim of broadening horizons beyond the classroom.

AVM Sue Gray says, as the RAF look to its next 100 years, diversity in the service will be at its heart.

“One thing I do know is that I need a diversity of engineers because it won't all come from either boys or girls.

"For me, it’s really important we inspire for the next 100 years of RAF engineers.”

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