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CamAWiSE STEM Careers fair for girls at Netherhall School – by Emma Atkin

On 10th November 2014 members of AWiSE as well as women and men from different STEM subjects came together to give young female students an insight into their careers. The event was opened by the brilliant 2014 cover of Thomas Dolby’s 1982 hit ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ released in celebration of women in science, empowering them to reach their potential and highlighting the social challenges they face to accomplish success. However unconsciously, some young girls are pushed into believing certain subjects are ‘masculine’ or too challenging for them which has a damaging effect on those who could want to study them in the future. The evening aimed to demonstrate just how capable the girls were of going into any of the STEM subjects – providing them with inspiring female role models and an insight into what they have to offer for their future.

Barnali Ghosh, a senior Principal Engineer currently specialising in Geo seismic hazards enthusiastically chaired the speaker session introducing a great range of speakers. Firstly Bridget Bannermann-Chukualim who spoke of how she was spurred on in scientific research using bioinformatics after seeing family members suffer from sleeping sickness disease. Chiara Puggione followed, discussing how she was inspired by her love of all things aviation to become a chief engineer at Marshall Aerospace, then Fiona Calver, who changed career paths to move into the STEM area, explained how she trained on the job and is now a physical measurement scientist at a printing company.

Mary Fortune talked about her PhD in computational Biology which focuses on mathematical genomics and medicine. She was followed by Jarek Rzepecki who after changing direction from physics to IT, now works in Visual effects and global illumination. To conclude the evening Fiona Karet told how her background of medical research led her to become a professor of Nephrology through a university route whereas Phil Stittle explored the apprenticeship opportunities available to students interested in STEM subjects as an alternative. Although each speaker gave an overview of their subject area and specific career history most also gave the students confidence to do what they found most interesting. They explained how starting with learning Maths and Science at school can give a wide career scope, allowing you to be flexible and create a winding path to a bright and exciting future.
As a recent Biology graduate helping at this event I was both thrilled and a tiny bit jealous. I wish this had existed when I was at school! At my age, I am still unaware of all the career options open to me, and I think providing a start to this information at school level is crucial. Throughout my secondary school there were no career events nor did I have any talks from female scientists. I was encouraged by the great turnout of students (and parents) and impressed by their developing passions for their future careers.

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