On March 29th, we co-hosted “Meet the Stemettes” at Microsoft Research with Cambridge AWISE and Stemettes – a panel with a Q&A, nibbles and networking games, to get girls aged 9-16 excited about science and technology careers. Despite the lure of the spring sunshine outside, we had a full house on the day with girls eager to talk to women who have forged careers as scientists and engineers.
Our panel – 7 women and 1 man – were really inspiring, and fielded questions from our host and the audience about themselves and their work. The girls were very inquisitive, asking everything from “What did you have for breakfast?” to “What’s the difference between science and engineering?“. GCSE and A-level choices came up a lot too, showing that these girls were really putting a lot of thought into how their subject choices now would affect their future career.
Feedback from the audience was really positive. Parents wondered why there weren’t more events like this, the girls were excited to be able to quiz women actually working in science and technology, and our panelists were keen to chat to everyone. One of our panelists was thrilled to be recognised in the street a few days later!
This sort of event is a great way to get informal careers advice to girls, but probably only reaches those who already have an interest, or who have keen parents. An interesting question is how to get the same sort of advice into the hands of girls who wouldn’t normally attend an event like this.
ScienceGrrl recently released a report “Through Both Eyes: The Case for a Gender Lens in STEM“. One of their recommendations was that organisations supporting women in STEM fields shouldn’t work alone, but take advantage of the tremendous potential for synergy. This event was a great example of collaboration between related organisations. Together with Cambridge AWISE, we have the reach to find panelists and to promote the event within the region, while Stemettes have the expertise and experience to run the panel.
It wouldn’t have been possible if Microsoft hadn’t generously provided the venue and refreshments, as part of their work to encourage women into technical careers.
All in all, it was a huge success, and we hope the Stemettes will come back to Cambridge soon to inspire more of our region’s girls!