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March 8 is International Women's Day. This year the theme is ‘choose to challenge’, and is all about celebrating women's achievements and raising awareness against bias.

Jennifer Lobo from the STEM Ambassador Hub TransPennine team spoke to some of their women volunteers who all work in science, technology, engineering and maths…

The Redraw the Balance project stated that gender stereotypes are defined between 5-7 years old. When children were asked to draw pictures of people who did different STEM jobs, 92% of images depicted a man, and a quick Google search for ‘Scientists’ and ‘Engineers’ bring up images of white people in white lab coats or hard hats. Our aim is to show that Engineers and Scientists go beyond a hard hat and a lab coat, they are people from a diverse range of backgrounds, they are everywhere and they shape the world we live in.

Our STEM Ambassadors are professionals studying and working in different areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. They volunteer with us to inspire and enthuse the next generations in STEM. For International Women’s Day 2021 we’ve been talking to some of our female STEM Ambassadors about working in STEM careers and why they think more girls and women should work in STEM.

Estela Gonzalez

Estela Gonzalez

Estela is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at The Pirbright Institute. Estela is studying new ways to control mosquito populations using genetic approaches, her goal is to slow down or stop the spread of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, like malaria or dengue.

Why is your area of STEM important?

My area of STEM is important because it helps scientists to understand mosquito biology and how they transmit diseases, which can lead to improved control measures that can reduce the number of infections.

What is your favourite part of your job?

There are so many good things about working in science! Every day is an adventure, learning and performing the experiments. But I guess one of the best things is when we get good results after hours working on an experiment!

What challenges do you face in your job?

One of the challenges of my job is working with animals, in this case, mosquitoes, because we need to plan and adjust our experiments very carefully according to their life cycle.

Why should more women and girls choose STEM?

STEM careers are super interesting, you learn new things every day  Working in STEM allows you to meet people from all over the world because collaborations between laboratories from different countries are key to advancing science. Diversity provides different points of view, ideas, and approaches to perform better science.
Nooshin Ghavami

Nooshin Ghavami

Nooshin is a Researcher at King’s College London, she uses computers and coding to solve medical problems which help clinicians (such as Doctors) with their diagnosis.

Why is your area of STEM important?

Clinicians save lives, we all know that, but what helps clinicians save lives is the number of devices, scanners and machinery which they use to make the correct diagnosis and treat their patients. This is where biomedical engineering comes in and why it’s so important within healthcare.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Being able to work so closely with clinicians and seeing the work we do benefiting patients!

What challenges do you face in your job?

A lot of the time code doesn’t work! One of the main challenges is having the patience to work on fixing the code and algorithms, which can take hours and even days and weeks sometimes.

Why should more women and girls choose STEM?

Although in this day and age there still exists some stereotypes around the fact that STEM, and especially engineering are more ‘male’ subjects, the number of women in university within STEM subjects is now equal to, if not more, than the number of men. STEM related subjects are so useful in so many parts of our everyday life, and there are some amazing career opportunities that come out of it. Therefore, if you love Maths and Physics then it’s definitely a good path to go down!
Olivia Vile

Olivia Vile

Olivia is a Data Analytics Graduate at Babcock International. As a Data Analyst, Olivia studies data and writes a lot of computer code.

Why is your area of STEM important?

Maths I believe is the most important because we use it so much in day to day life. Everything we build and create uses Maths, measurements and calculations; I think that’s pretty cool.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Working in a team of people so we all get to bounce ideas off each other. If I ever get stuck, there is always someone around to help me and talk through the problem together.

What challenges do you face in your job?

Part of the work my company does is looking after the UK’s submarine fleet, so there is little room for error as submarines can be very expensive to maintain.

Why should more women and girls choose STEM?

Sometimes in STEM, women have been given less opportunities than men just because of their gender. This is wrong- gender has absolutely no impact on the skills and ideas you have. Women and girls are just as capable, just as smart and have just as much potential as men- no matter what job they do. It’s time more women join STEM and help change the world.
Golda McNamee

Golda McNamee

Golda is a Project Manager at UK Power Networks. Golda builds new sites which transform high voltage electricity to a lower voltage which can then be used to power schools, homes, museums and everything else!

Why is your area of STEM important?

My area of STEM is important to make sure that the electricity network runs safely and that you can use electricity for everything you need it for, such as keeping the lights on in your home or in the streets, being able to watch the television or put the kettle on.

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is seeing a project finished that I have been a part of completing! I also love being able to learn new things every day about construction, people and how the electricity network works in London.

What challenges do you face in your job?

Making sure that I keep everyone happy is a difficult task! Because of the projects I run, I have to check that we have the correct tools and equipment, as sometimes other people need the same resources and I have to do a lot of work on making sure that we decide who gets to use the resources in a fair way. Sometimes this is decided by looking at which project needs finishing first, or who the customer is.

Why should more women and girls choose STEM?

I think more women and girls should choose STEM as it would be amazing to see more diversity in the industry. When you see more diverse groups of people then projects become more interesting and better for everyone.
Michelle Glasser

Michelle Glasser

Michelle is a Building Development Manager and Construction Project Manager at Mitchells and Butlers plc. When pubs close for refurbishment, Michelle is in charge of that refurbishment work which can will include redecoration, replacing old equipment and installing new furniture.

Why is your area of STEM important?

My area of STEM is important because without it there wouldn’t be new buildings or repairs on existing buildings.  We need to maintain and look after our buildings so they last a long time and lots of people can use them.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I like being creative and getting a sense of achievement when the jobs are finished.  Especially when people compliment the work that you have done and say it looks nice!

What challenges do you face in your job?

My job is difficult because I have a budget to stick to, and sometimes we don’t have a lot of money to spend.  We must make the pubs look good with a small amount of money which is always a challenge.

Why should more women and girls choose STEM?

I LOVE doing what I do, the fact that there aren’t many women doing it makes me feel proud about being in the minority.  I like to encourage other women and girls to join the construction industry because there just aren’t enough of us on building sites.  We have great minds and they should be put to good use in challenging roles like mine.

If you work in science, engineering, technology or maths and would like to become a STEM Ambassador, find out more and apply here: https://www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/learning/stem-ambassadors

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