LSBU 100 - Centenary of Women in Engineering


According to STEM Women data for 2017/18 the percentage of women studying STEM subjects in UK universities was 35% and for Engineering and Technology subjects the figure was 19%.

In part 8 of our series of events celebrating the centenary of teaching women engineering subjects at LSBU, we shift the focus onto the role of education in imposing and challenging gender stereotypes within British society.

Here we consider the long history of LSBU in promoting and providing education to women in engineering subjects. We situate this pioneering history within the wider context of female education in twentieth-century Britain. We then consider the present-day impact of gender stereotypes on the life chances of young people and the career choices they make.

Through these discussions, we hope to identify what more needs to be done to enable increasing numbers of girls and women to take up STEM subjects as a career in the twenty-first century.

The full programme for this event is as follows;

  • 5pm – Zoom Intro by Dean Woodhouse - Senior Corporate Events Officer at London South Bank University
  • 5.05pm – Event Intro by Professor Caitriona Beaumont - Director of Research and Professor of Social History, London South Bank University
  • 5.10pm – Identity matters: challenging gender stereotypes by Professor Becky Francis - CEO Education Endowment Foundation and co-chair and author of Unlimited Potential: Report of the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood (The Fawcett Society, 2020)
  • 5.20pm – She will need patience in overcoming difficulties’: A century of educational progress and the legacy of post war gender stereotyping by Professor Stephanie Spencer - Professor of History of Women’s Education, University of Winchester. Author of Gender, Work and Education in Britain in the 1950s (2005)
  • 5.30pm – Science versus Art -- the Fake Divide by Linda Edwards-Shea - LSBU Lecturer in Engineering and Co-founder of the LSBU Women in Engineering Centre
  • 5.40pm – Women’s Education at LSBU by Ruth Macleod - LSBU Archivist and co-convenor of Centenary of Women in Engineering at LSBU
  • 5.50pm – Panel Q&A hosted by Professor Caitriona Beaumont
  • 6.25pm – Closing Statements by Professor Caitriona Beaumont
  • 6.30pm – Event End

Registered guests will receive the Zoom Webinar links for this event one day before the event is to commence.

To learn more about our LSBU 100 - Women in Engineering event series, please see our YouTube Playlist to view our previous events.

To find out the history over the past 100 years of Women In Engineering and LSBU, please click to see our timeline.

Once a month, the LSBU Archive team will be releasing a profile piece highlighting the achievements of Women Engineers over the past 100 years. To read these profile pieces, click the link.


Professor Becky Francis is Chief Executive Officer of the Education Endowment Foundation. She was previously Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), and prior roles include Professor of Education and Social Justice at King’s College London, Director of Education at the RSA and Standing Advisor to the Parliamentary Education Select Committee. She is the inaugural Yidan Global Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Throughout her career, Becky has sought to maximise the impact of academic research by working closely with teachers and policy-makers. She has spearheaded high-profile research programmes assessing the impact of major reforms in the English school system on educational inequalities.

Linda Edwards-Shea graduated in Applied Physics from Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) and after working as a Research Engineer with British Aerospace and a Desk Editor for the Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, she went on to gain a Master's Degree in Applied Optics from Imperial College. She worked in research for the GEC Hirst Research Centre before joining London South Bank University as a lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering. Linda is now a professional actor and playwright.

Ruth MacLeod is the archivist at LSBU, responsible for the care of the University’s historic records. This includes helping research our institutional history and bringing it to a wider audience, something which has been particularly interesting for this centenary year.

You can find out more about the archives on the Twitter feed @LSBUArchives.

Stephanie Spencer is Professor of the History of Women’s Education at the University of Winchester. She teaches on the Education Studies degree that is designed for students who have an interest in the academic study of education. Many graduates do go on to teach but many study the subject as a way of exploring the way that gender, race and social class intersect in both policy making and the experience of formal education. I am particularly interested in the way that factors external to the formal curriculum have affected girls’ career choices. My recent book with Nancy G. Rosoff British and American School Stories, 1910- 1960; fiction, femininity and friendship won the 2020 Anne Bloomfield Book prize for the best book in English on history of education and focused on the role of leisure reading as informal education. My new research focuses on the girls’ Direct Grant schools 1944-1976.