A GROUP of employers marked International Women’s Day by helping to soften the male image associated with jobs in science and engineering.

United Utilities co-hosted the event at its Lingley Mere headquarters with Soroptomist International of Warrington.

The aim was to help try to banish misconceptions about working with tech for fifty girls from Great Sankey High School.

The girls spent the day with young women and men who have chosen careers using science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, as well as trying out fun activities using augmented reality, laboratory experiments and problem-solving.

The day was the brainchild of United Utilities’ gender equality network, with support from Jaguar Land Rover, Liverpool Clinical Laboratories, Atkins, Wood Group and the Environment Agency.

Organiser Rachael Dingle, who trained as a marine biologist but now helps United Utilities improve river and bathing water quality, said: “The big question we’ll be asking them is whether they would be happy and successful in a technical career.

"Happy and successful are only words but they’re a different way of talking about these types of jobs. In the past recruiters have tended to use words like becoming a leader, which might appeal more to boys but could be off-putting for a lot of people.

“United Utilities has already changed a lot since I started work. Seventeen years ago I would be at meetings where I was the only woman in a room full of men. Now they are more balanced. That’s the way it should be, but we have further to go. One of the ways we can do this is by helping break down the barriers for girls who are interested in STEM.”

Helen Stones, head of science at Great Sankey High School, said: “Last year the main message from the girls was that it opened their eyes to lots of careers that they had no idea were linked to STEM. Many of the younger girls see a science career as something simply stuck in a lab somewhere or being a vet or a doctor and nothing else really."