Brussels, 11 May 2005
A campaign was launched in the UK on 10 May to encourage women who have taken a break from working to return to careers in science, engineering and technology (SET).
Research shows that around 50,000 women who have specialist skills and training in SET are currently not working in the sector. The UK Research Centre for Women (UKRC), the organisation behind the campaign, believes that these women are crucial for the UK's economy.
'Currently only a third of SET qualified women return to jobs that utilise their experience after taking a career break, for example to raise children,' says Jane Butcher, the campaign manager. 'This loss is contributing to a continued skills gap in the SET industries. It represents a major concern for employers, and for women, who can feel frustrated that they are not making full use of their skills and potential.'
The Return Campaign is intended to bring 1,000 women back into SET over the next three years by connecting them to a number of free services and a support network. On offer will be training courses, mentoring schemes and networking organisations.
The Open University will be contributing to the campaign by offering a free online course on 'science, engineering and technology: a course for women returners'.
Open University lecturer Clem Herman explained why the course is needed: 'I've interviewed lots of women
who have returned after a break and found that many face similar issues, for example feeling out of
touch with old contacts and networks, something which can be more acute in SET where women are still in
the minority. This course takes account of such issues and offers a mix of support and practical help.'
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