How the Engendering STEM project is providing impactful solutions and tools to support STEM focused SMEs in developing inclusive workplace practices

Douglas Morrison

In the third of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Douglas Morrison discusses his work at City of Glasgow College helping to support STEM focused SME’s develop inclusive workplace practices via the Erasmus+ funded Engendering STEM project.


Douglas Morrison is an experienced educator with a demonstrated history of working in the further and higher education sector. His areas of interest include STEM, construction, innovation, digital disruption, educational policy, technology enhanced learning and gender equality issues. He is currently the STEM and Innovation Lead at City of Glasgow College and Director of the Scottish Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange.



What is involved in your role of STEM and Innovation Lead and what policies and actions have you implemented?

My role at the college is varied and always interesting. I am currently working on the development of a regional STEM strategy for Glasgow, which will outline our collective blueprint for STEM education in the city over the next three to five years. I also oversee a number of curriculum development and applied research projects relating to construction, STEM, equality, maritime safety, technology enhanced learning and innovation. We have recently set up the Scottish branch of the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange and are actively supporting local businesses to drive growth and improve performance through the adoption of innovative practices.


Could you introduce the Engendering STEM project?

The Engendering STEM project is an Erasmus+ funded project being delivered by partners in the Basque Country, the Netherlands and the UK. The aim of the project is to support small and medium enterprises operating in the STEM sector to develop more inclusive workplace practices. The project is underpinned by the business, legal and moral cases for diversity, and adopts an evidence-based approach to identifying barriers and signposting impactful solutions.

What has the project learnt so far in terms of the factors that distinguish those SMEs who have embraced equality and those that have not, and what strategies do you feel will help promote diversity?

The project team have been collating case studies and developing best practices across 12 key themes such as recruitment, equal pay, policies and strategy. We are currently using the learning from this process to develop a self-assessment tool, which STEM SME employers can use to assess their business. Our early findings suggest flexible working practices, commitment to equal pay and provision of childcare facilities/funding are particularly effective in recruiting and retaining women. We do however, recognise there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and that each employer needs to assess the best-fit solutions for their business.


Could you elaborate on the City of Glasgow College’s Positive Action Programme, Women into Engineering, particularly in terms of reasons why women are under-represented in mechanical engineering and other areas which you feel would benefit from a women only programme? 

Our Women into Engineering programme adopts a positive action approach to gender equality and addresses common barriers associated with women entering male dominated environments, with a primary focus on supported mainstreaming:

  1. Lack of awareness/engagement relating to career options
  2. Concerns relating to entry into a male-dominated environment
  3. Concerns relating to securing employment.

This approach has been a key contributor in increasing women’s participation in mechanical engineering and has since been extended into our construction and care teams to positive effect. Other areas that may benefit from this approach include electrical engineering, digital/ICT and advanced manufacturing.

Could you offer a brief introduction to the Scottish Funding Council’s Gender Action Plan and how successful the plan has been in terms of increasing the number of male

The Scottish Funding Council launched the Gender Action Plan (GAP) in 2016 as a means to support colleges and universities in developing holistic institutional action plans to address gender under-representation in subject disciplines. This has been a welcome development, as it has raised the profile of the issue and encouraged educational institutes to work collaboratively and to share best practice. It is too early to measure the impact of the GAP implementation, but early results suggest a small improvement in gender representation in particularly imbalanced subject areas such as mechanical and electrical engineering and ICT.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Douglas Morrison here