A view from academia…
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published their report on ‘Women in scientific careers’ on Thursday the 6th of February after consulting 90 written submissions, including one from Cambridge AWiSE, and 13 witnesses including academic researchers, diversity and equality groups, universities, research and funding councils and the Government. Reading this report as an early career biomedical scientist, was oddly shocking and encouraging at the same time. The Committee points out problems many young scientists will recognise, but adds that these problems have long been identified and despite serious efforts have not ceased to exist.
The Committee explains that the UK economy needs more skilled scientists and engineers. To meet this need more women will need to be retained in STEM careers. The Government currently focuses on inspiring young girls to choose a STEM career.
The Government aims to increase the number of women in STEM by inspiring young girls to choose a STEM career, like Penny does here at the Cambridge AWiSE stand at the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival.
However, although this may increase the input, this does not stop women from gradually disappearing higher up the career ladder, the so-called ‘leaky pipeline’. Thus, nurturing girls into actively pursuing a career in STEM for some reason does not lead to a larger representation of women at the top. Can this have something to do with the female nature? To my pleasant surprise the Committee actually touches upon this in their report.
Cambridge AWiSE steering group member – Marloes Tijssen
My first experience with Cambridge AWiSE was when I came to 2nd Career Development Day in June 2012. This was such an inspiring event that I decided to also sign up for the WISE UP Career Series. The workshops and networking events motivated me a lot. This made me want to share my own experiences and help CamAWiSE with the work they did, which is why I joined the steering group in June 2013.
I started working in Cambridge in 2008 after completing my PhD in Amsterdam at Sanquin, the Dutch blood transfusion service. My research interest has always been how blood platelets (the cells that clot the blood) are formed in the bone marrow from their “parent cell” the megakaryocyte. I was first funded by a grant from the Dutch government and then went on to a Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Union.
These are the words which I most dread hearing, at any gathering, be it social or business. Why? Because I’m convinced before I utter a single word in response that I’m boring the pants off the person who asked the question. Because I can anticipate their eyes glazing over before I start. And, crucially, because I’m no longer passionate about what I do for a living. As we discovered at our Winter Networking event, being passionate about what you do, and being able to describe why you love it, is key to ensuring the other person remembers what you’ve told them.
Who better to invite to our networking event than Adelina Chalmers, CEO and founder of Presenting Good Practice? Adelina is most certainly passionate about what she does; Read more
Dream, Dare and Do! What an inspiring title for our annual joint meeting with Cambridge Businesswomen’s Network (CBN). The event is always a great opportunity for us to meet other women from our sister network, but also to mingle with teachers and sixth-formers from St Mary’s School, which so kindly hosted the meeting and provided us with an excellent buffet.
Kate invites volunteers to tell us about their dreams!
The title was provided by Kate Atkin, our speaker and facilitator for the evening. Kate encouraged us to commit some dreams to paper, then discuss them in our groups, particularly thinking about whether they are “doing” dreams or “being” dreams. There is an important relationship between these two concepts; thinking about your goals, you could ask yourself, “What would I have to DO to BE xxx….”, and equally, “What would I have to BE to DO xxx…”
On November 14th, a good crowd of AWiSE and Lucy Cavendish members were entertained by Sue Black talking about her life and many achievements. She is a wonderful example of how you can bring about change, not just in your own life, but for the benefit of others too.
Finding herself a single mum with three under-fives living in Tower Hamlets, she decided that she needed to get a qualification to provide an income for her family. She started by doing a Maths access course where she was one of only two women, who came joint top of the class. She followed this with a computing degree at the University of the South Bank – chosen as the nearest place to home so she could juggle childcare. When she was asked to continue to PhD level, she admits she did not know what a PhD was. She then followed an academic career in computing, becoming Head of Information and Software Systems at the University of Westminster.
Sue’s first step into making a difference was to set up BCSWomen, which she did to provide a forum for women in IT, who were often the only women in their department or at a conference, to interact and support each other. On a visit to Bletchley Park, Sue was surprised to learn that over half of the war-time staff had been women. So she started an oral history project to tell their story. Read more