Approximately 80 female students from eight high schools around the North West recently had the chance to find out what it’s like to work in science and technology first hand at a STEM outreach event at the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus.
The event, which took place on 12 October 2016, was jointly organised by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and IBM, aiming to inspire and promote careers in science and technology – with as emphasis on computing – to girls from Year 9 and 10 in high school.
The students spent the day taking part in various activities including an innovation workshop, a 3D visualisation demonstration – which took place in the Hartree Centre visualisation suite – and a 3D printing demonstration.
Careers Q&A sessions were held in smaller groups with computational scientists from IBM and STFC – giving the girls a chance to ask real people working in a technical field their advice and learn about their experiences.
Director of the Hartree Centre, Alison Kennedy, also presented a short talk about her own experiences of a career in technology, identifying that women have been involved in computing expertise from the very beginning – from 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace to the communications operators and code breakers during World War II.
Katharina Reusch, an IBM Research data scientist based at Sci-Tech Daresbury, co-ordinated the event with support from IBM and STFC staff.
“We had a really positive response from the students, who approached the activities with great energy and enthusiasm,” said Katharina. “It’s important for young girls to recognise science and technology as options that are open to them – and that they can be exciting, fulfilling career choices. I didn’t know I would end up working in computing, but technology is all around us. Almost every job you can think of will benefit from a STEM background.”
Phill Day, Public Engagement Manager at STFC, commented: “Today’s event went really well. There was a real buzz as the girls engaged with activities promoting innovation. The day enabled the students to engage with real women in STEM in a welcoming and inspiring environment. Over 85% of the participants indicated that they might find out more about science and computing when they got home and 88% said that the day had made them more likely to consider working in science or computing in the future.”