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4 European universities nurturing purpose-driven women in STEM

Source: QMUL

Although the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields are gaining popularity over the last decade, women are still lacking the opportunities to access quality education and employment in these fields. 

In the UK, there are one million women in the STEM workforce – despite being an improvement from previous years, the gender gap in the field remains a worrying trend. Other factors such as cultural norms and biases have also kept women from pursuing these careers, further hindering them from getting the compensation and recognition they deserve.

The best universities understand this and are taking active steps to help more women achieve success in these crucial fields. If you’re looking for a STEM programme that will land you a rewarding and fulfilling STEM career, consider these four European universities: 

Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London’s research-driven engineering programmes are ranked seventh overall in the Research Excellence Framework 2021. Source: Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London is currently home to over 32,000 students from more than 170 countries. Most are there to gain an educational experience informed by internationally-leading research activity. The university is ranked seventh overall in engineering and second in the UK for its research output in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

At its School of Engineering and Materials Science, this research prowess is paired with outstanding curricula. Offered at undergraduate and postgraduate level, these unique programmes are first class and provide students with a fantastic opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research.

Students taking their master’s programmes will have fantastic opportunities to take part in research in world-class facilities such as the Flight Simulator, Nano Fluids Research Labs and Thermal Analysis Facility. MSc programmes cover Advanced Robotics, Advanced Mechanical Engineering, Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, Data Centric Systems Engineering, Sustainable Energy Systems and Biomedical Engineering. All programmes let students further explore a subject to attain a high level of proficiency, with an opportunity for independent research.

Graduates find good jobs fast — 95% of the university graduates are in highly skilled jobs 15 months after graduation. To join them, apply to the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London today.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University/Facebook 

Cardiff University has a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity making them strong advocates of women in STEM. Source: Cardiff University/Facebook

With an emphasis on providing a diverse and inclusive learning environment, the School of Engineering at Cardiff University is a strong advocate for women in STEM. The university has also won the Bronze award for Athena Swan for their dedication to help women achieve their full potential in the field. The Athena Swan award is a testament of a higher education’s achievements in achieving gender equality.

Postgraduate programmes here include Architectural, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mechanical and Medical Engineering. They balance a rigorous curriculum with research elements to enable students to enhance their engineering knowledge and skills. 

Other than that, the university also has strong industrial links connecting students to researchers across the globe. Today, there are over 200 collaborative research projects and 40 externally funded collaborative projects that have been executed in partnership with both local and international companies and institutions. Learn more about postgraduate applications here

“We aim to provide a supportive, friendly and stimulating environment which allows students to fulfil their potential, while producing world-class research that benefits the local, national and international community,” says Professor Jianzhong Wu, Head of School.

Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in Queen’s University Belfast are strong advocates of gender equality and has received the Silver award for Athena Swan. Source: Queen’s University Belfast

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast fully supports gender equality through representation, progression and success for all. They are also another institution that has received recognition for their mission by winning the Silver award for Athena Swan.

Here, students undertaking both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes will learn experientially through the state-of-the-art facilities that support research and project-based learning. Those interested in joining the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering but don’t meet the requirements can start with a Foundation Degree (FdEng) in Mechanical Engineering. It is a two-year degree offered by Belfast Metropolitan College in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast.

Students will be career-ready by the time they graduate with 94% of students in employment or furthering their studies within six months of graduation. The university offers career support under the Engineering Leadership Programme and student work placement to enhance employability of their students. 

“I feel supported by Queen’s as we have an International Office and an International Student Support Office,” says Zongyou Zuo, a MEng Mechanical Engineering student. 

University of Glasgow

Source: University of Glasgow/Facebook

Considered the first institution in the UK to offer engineering degrees, the University of Glasgow offers students an extensive range of research-led postgraduate degrees under the James Watt School of Engineering. Some of these include: Mechatronics, Robotics and AI, Structural Engineering and Sustainable Energy. 

Being research-driven, the university integrates research as part of their curriculum and offers students hands-on learning opportunities at the leading centres of research – such as the James Watt Fabrication Centre, which houses over 35 million pounds of state-of-the-art fabrication and metrology equipment. Take a virtual tour here

Students here will greatly benefit from the university’s international partnerships with institutions around the globe – Singapore Institute of Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) and the University of Denver.

The school was also ranked top in Scotland for engineering research excellence, with 96% of its research judged “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework. It is third (Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Civil Engineering) and fourh (Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering) in the UK in the league tables.

Speaking about its Silver Athena Swan award in recognition of institutional efforts to improve gender equality, Professor David Cumming, head of the James Watt School of Engineering, said: “Our mission as a school is to set the standard for education and research in Engineering by creating an environment that supports and nurtures everyone to fulfil their personal and professional ambitions.  

“The guidance of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group, led by Debbie Goldie and Professor Cindy Smith, has been vital to delivering on the action plan we set out following our Bronze award.” 

*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International