What to Expect from The Women in STEM Conference 2019

On May 22nd we see the return of the Women in STEM Conference in Central London at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. With even more speakers and delegates than last year.

New Bespoke Breakout Streams

For the first time, this year, the conference will be hosting dedicated breakout streams for the ‘Education Sector’ and for ‘Employers’. The afternoon sessions will provide delegates with the opportunity to gain specific insights into key issues and topics for women in STEM in each sector. Speakers will be presenting case studies of best practice demonstrating successful examples of promoting the progression of girls and women in STEM and how delegates could use these examples to implement similar strategies in their own organisations.

21 Speakers!

This year we will be hosting 21 speakers, all leading experts from the STEM sector. Keynote Speakers from STEM Learning, WISE, WES and The Royal Society will be sharing the latest policy updates. Case studies, workshops and panel discussions will provide examples of best practice, covering key topics such as: enhancing diversity, supporting pipeline progression and ensuring the improved uptake of girls and women entering STEM education and careers.

Focusing on Solutions not Problems

The aim of the conference this year is to focus on the positive change that is happening for Women in STEM and how it is coming about, rather than dwelling on the problems. In order to tackle key issues facing women in STEM, ideas and solutions need to be shared. The conference will offer the opportunity to network and share ideas with others in the sector, to ensure the long-term participation, recruitment and advancement of Women in STEM.

Join the Discussion Now!

If you don’t follow us already check out our Twitter page @WomenInSTEM19 where we share and discuss key topics on women in STEM. We use this platform not only on the day of the Conference but all year round to keep you up to date on the latest news, policy and ideas in the Women in STEM sector. For this year’s conference we have a dedicated hashtag: #WomenInSTEM19

Digital Resources

Enjoy watching and listening to speakers on the day without worrying about taking notes! All the resources on the day will be available on our digital resource bank, allowing you to download and access all the Conference presentations and resources throughout the day.

What Next?

If you are already signed up, you will receive specific joining information 2 weeks before the Conference. We can’t wait to welcome you from 8.45 at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel on 22nd May

If you’re not booked on yet and are looking to register, final places can be secured via our registration page here: https://stemwomenconference.co.uk/booking-info/

Q&A with Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of The Women’s Engineering Society: 100 years of WES, INWED 2019 and the Top 50 Women in Engineering 2019

A summary of a Q&A with Elizabeth Donnelly in celebration of the centenary of WES and in the run up to the Women in STEM Conference 2019.

WES is celebrating its centenary this year, how are you celebrating and what are your plans for the rest of the year?

The celebrations started in January with our Change Makers event, bringing many of the Past Presidents of WES together, along with our younger Members who represent our future.

Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Transforming the Future. It was great to see all the previous inspirational women who were Presidents of WES come together.

We have three conferences planned for 2019, the first WES Centenary Conference took place in March at the RAF Museum in London and hosted Mandy Hickson an Ex-fighter pilot from the RAF and Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency. There are two more conferences planned for this year, one in Cardiff, Wales, on May 15th and one in Edinburgh, Scotland, in collaboration with INWES in October.

Further celebrations include the WES Centenary Fundraising Dinner on 21st June, WES Centenary Members’ Lunch on 23rd June and International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on 23rd June. WES has also launched its interactive online heritage trail, thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, exploring WES through its 100 year history. This is linked with ongoing wikithons across the country, aiming to add more women, especially women in engineering, to Wikipedia.

What are the major challenges facing Women In STEM currently?

The challenges faced by women in STEM are systemic. In order to encourage more STEM engagement among women we need to address the way the problem is being framed. Women are not the problem and men should be trying to work out how to support this change in perception. We do have to applaud companies that are already supporting the recruitment of women, but only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. The government is doing two things which should help change the system. Firstly, the government has urged FTSE 350 companies to have 33% of board positions filled by women by 2020. Secondly, the government is working towards narrowing the gender pay gap.

What tips do you have for girls and women that want to pursue a career in STEM?

Do it and don’t take no for an answer. If you enjoy maths and physics then take them for A level, you don’t have to have A grades to study engineering or pursue an engineering career. Find the sweet spot between what you find easy and what you enjoy and don’t let anybody hold you back. You can also find a mentor to advise you through your studies and your career. WES have a MentorSET programme through which you can find mentors who can provide support and advice. WES are hoping to fundraise and provide discounted rates for this for their members.

For International Women in Engineering Day 2019 the slogan is ‘Transforming the Future’, what do you think the future holds for women in engineering and how will WES be celebrating the day?

The future of engineering will focus on merging. It will see the merger of different types of engineering such as: mechanical engineering and electronical engineering into mechatronics. This will happen across all engineering streams. We are heading towards a future centred on driverless cars and renewables so it’s important that women are at the centre of these designs.

WES has a resource pack available on their website for INWED 2019 for everyone worldwide. WES have also launched their Top 50 Women in Engineering Awards: Current and Former Apprentices  – nominations are open now and the deadline has been extended until 23 April – you can nominate other inspirational women but women are also welcome to nominate themselves.  All women should be shouting out about themselves and their contribution to engineering.

What tips do you have for employers that want to attract more women to STEM positions?

Make women more visible in your recruitment campaigns and marketing material. This will attract more women to apply for positions. Employers should also gender decode their job descriptions, WES have a gender decoder on their website which you can use to prevent masculine-coded language and encourage more female applicants.

Employers should also stop using words such as ‘essential criteria’, women are less likely to apply than men if they think they don’t meet the essential criteria. Applications that use language such as ‘meeting more than 3 of the criteria’ are seen as more welcoming applications by women. Shortlists of applicants should always include women. It is also important for employers to make the workplace more flexible so women can return to the work place. Especially for those that have long career breaks, providing ‘returnships’ can help women get back to speed and support their return to work. Ultimately women should go for it!

Elizabeth Donnelly will be speaking at the Women in STEM Conference 2019, to find out more and book on check out the website here: https://stemwomenconference.co.uk/

This Q&A and summary was conducted and written by Tatiana de Berg

In Conversation with Dr Katie Perry: A Q&A with the CEO of The Daphne Jackson Trust

What are you currently working on at the Daphne Jackson Trust? Are there any projects for 2019 that you can share with us?

2019 is a conference year for the Daphne Jackson Trust, the conference takes place every two years and is on the 16-17th October in London and is free to attend. The conference represents an opportunity to bring together all the current Daphne Jackson Fellows as well as many former Fellows. Taking place over two days, it includes training for Fellows on the first day and for the first time a conference dinner for all delegates. Last time 70 fellows attended the conference. It’s at events like these that you really understand the reality of the great work of the Trust.

There are also lots of other projects coming up, including the post-fellowship survey for next year. Last year the trust launched its new website, this included a new video which truly encapsulates what the trust does.

What tips do you have for women that want to return to STEM research careers?

Never give up on your dreams and what you want to do. The Daphne Jackson Trust works with many women who have experienced a prolonged break from research. The Trust gives them the opportunity to return. If you are motivated, then there is nothing stopping you. The key is to do lots of research on what you want to do and then use an organisation, such as The Daphne Jackson Trust, to help and support you. The Daphne Jackson Trust offers lots of types of support for women who want to return to research, not only whilst doing the Fellowship but also during the application process, this includes help with confidence and mentoring.

Another tip for women that want to return to STEM research careers is to be practical. Question yourself, are you really ready? Is this the right time? Are you ready to return full time or part time? It is really important to plan and be practical about what you can expect from yourself.

What are the major challenges facing women in STEM and how can we help tackle them?

For schools and education there is a need for more inspirational role models and to take an individualised approach. Real role models, women, who are closer in age to those that they are trying to inspire, so that young women can really relate to them. Truly inspiring role models are so important.

In a work environment being a woman shouldn’t be a barrier. Equality of opportunity in the workplace is a major challenge. Determination is key, be single minded and do what you want to do. Never be afraid to report malpractice, point it out and ensure you have the same opportunities as others in the workplace. Communicate and share good practice, if something is going well then shout about it.

Companies and employers should use all the examples of best practice out there to encourage diversity and equality. It is important to bust urban myths and not perpetuate the problem. Employers can encourage their employees to become mentors. Men or women, who have been successful, should know that they can make an impact through becoming a mentor. It’s important to find people to champion each little bit of good work.

Can you tell us a bit about your inspiring fellows, what they do and how they are making a difference for women in STEM?

I absolutely love my job. All our Fellows and fellowship advisers are amazing. The Fellows cover every area of STEM research, including maths, physics, medical research and environmental research. It is a delight to work with the Fellows, they are inspiring in what they’re doing. All of them are returners who have experienced a career break, on average, of 5-8 years. They come back to research and are still juggling lots in their lives, either as carers, parents or their own health issues. It’s important for them to have the right work life balance. The Fellows also support one another, they meet at training courses and have formed geographic networks for peer to peer support. To find out more about the Fellows and their research you can see case studies on the Daphne Jackson Trust website.

Dr Katie Perry will be chairing the Women in STEM Conference 2019, to find out more and book on check out the website here: https://stemwomenconference.co.uk/

This Q&A summary was written by Tatiana de Berg

How to Run a Successful Science Club: Experiments, Investigations and Fun

Chemistree (made from borax and copper wire, coloured with traces of transition metals) winner of RSC Chemistree Competition 2018

Sharing Science Club Ideas

Jessica clutched her 2 litre bottle of diet cola carefully. She’d just created a series of holes around the top of the bottle and in the lid and the next step was to thread a string of Mentos through the hole in the lid, then go outside, screw it on and release the string. The other students were gathering their kit and we were all about to head outdoors when a squeal and a whooshing noise alerted us to the awesome sight of a fountain of cola reaching the ceiling while Jess tried frantically to cover the holes with her fingers and carry the eruption towards the door. Intervention was hopeless. After 30 seconds it was all over. Wiping away the tears of laughter, we all joined in the clean-up.

After ten years the mark is still there on the ceiling to remind me of the funniest thing that has happened at Science Club. Jess is now a laboratory analyst and I have learned not to issue any Mentos until all bottles of cola have their tops firmly screwed on.

Which snowflake will fall the slowest?

Science Club runs weekly for year 7-8. I want to encourage practical skills, problem-solving and to cultivate an atmosphere where it is OK to fail. The important thing is for a girl to figure out what went wrong and why, then have another go and improve. A typical activity will have the minimum of written instructions, not require any writing and involve every student getting hands on.  For younger girls, chemistry activities often involve fire, Bunsen burners, colour changes, fizzing, bangs and pops. Competitions are always popular as are detective scenarios. Last week the Head of Science popped in, cup of tea in hand, to see what we were doing. Little did he know that 40 girls were analysing the rate of cooling of cups of tea to determine which of four suspects was responsible for leaving a cup of tea at exactly 65°C next to the “body of a murdered teacher”. His name promptly shot up to the top of the list!

Senior Science Club is for year 9+. It tends to attract a smaller but no less enthusiastic clientele. This is where I often work with the girls to test ideas – we might try out an experiment we’ve read about or seen on YouTube.  Once we decided to make our own paint – not by mixing existing colours but by creating the coloured pigments by chemical reactions. How much of each reactant did we need to mix together to make lead iodide, a beautiful yellow solid? I’ll never forget the light bulb moment when Tessa exclaimed “I know how to do this!”  Her lessons on balancing equations and mole calculations suddenly came to life and she started scribbling down figures and then triumphantly and correctly announced how much of each we needed.

3D Printing Using Chocolate (Senior Science Club)

As a scientist I enjoy sharing investigations and experiments with students. Over the years they have earned CREST Awards, won local and national competitions and been on countless visits to local universities and STEM companies, all of which I have probably enjoyed as much as the girls. Numerous students have gone on to study STEM subjects in further or higher education with many now in STEM careers. All these successes are worthwhile but it is the satisfaction of working with the girls to have fun in the science lab without any success criteria or learning outcomes that makes running Science Club the highlight of my week.

Writing on water – a science club activity

Top Tips for Running a STEM Club

Start simple

Base your initial sessions on tried and tested activities. Once the students are hooked you can get more adventurous. When you are ready, try some activities where you don’t know the outcome. Now you are doing real science and you and the kids can experience the thrill of making your own discoveries

Teamwork

Don’t try to do everything yourself or running the club can become a burden. Involve technicians, colleagues, parents, older students or STEM Ambassadors. Never do anything a student can do – they can take a register, carry equipment, write on the board and clear up. It should become their club – not just yours

Enthusiasm

Your enthusiasm will rub off on the students so join in with the activities, get to know the kids and enjoy STEM together

Mishaps

If something goes wrong or doesn’t work, help the students to work out why and then have another go – that’s what scientists and engineers do. Always have some spare supplies handy. They will make more mess than you think, spill things and use up all of whatever you put out. Always do a risk assessment. Then get hands on and have fun!

 

This article was written by Lynn Nickerson, STEM Coordinator and Science Inclusion Mentor at Didcot Girls’ School.

Getting More Women into Tech Could Improve Women’s Representation Across STEM

Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive of the WISE Campaign shares insights on improving women’s representation in tech careers

It is ironic that tech, which has the biggest skills shortages, is the bit of STEM where the gender gap is widening. WISE analysis of trends over the past 5 years show that whilst numbers of women choosing to study computing and to work in technology occupations are going up – the number of men choosing tech is rising much more rapidly, meaning the sector is more male-dominated than ever. This is true from the classroom to the boardroom. And yet technology is transforming every sector of the economy, which means organisations in every sector require people with technology skills. The diversity of WISE corporate membership reflects this trend – coming from retail, property, financial services, transport, media and the military as well as more traditional construction, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

If we made a more joined-up, concerted effort to get more women into technology, the benefit would be felt across all sectors, because all sectors need more people with tech skills and there are not nearly enough with the right skills and experience to meet demand. With women making up only 17% of the UK’s tech workforce (compared to 34% in India), there is a clear opportunity here.

WISE members embrace a three-pronged approach to improve the participation of women in technical roles:

  1. Make the subject relevant to girls by connecting them to young women just like them who are doing something they love using technology
  2. Offer training to women who didn’t choose technology subjects at school or college but would like the opportunity for a career change
  3. Re-think recruitment to attract more applicants from women

And of course we mustn’t forget culture – there is little point attracting more women into your organisation if you can’t guarantee they will be treated with respect and given the same career opportunities as their male colleagues. We collated Ten Steps, based on the experiences of our corporate members, as an integrated solution to improve the retention and progression of women in a STEM environment.

There are plenty of examples of practical initiatives organisations have put in place which have dramatically increased the representation of women in technology. They see the benefits not just in terms of accessing a bigger talent pool but in terms of motivation, engagement and innovation across the business – all of which thrive in a diverse, inclusive environment. And of course those with more women in technology roles are likely to have a smaller gender pay gap.

To hear from Helen Wollaston and many more speakers including The Royal Society and The Women’s Engineering Society join us at The Women in STEM Conference 2018 on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 in Central London.

#WomenLikeMe – Dr Kirsty Clode, Chair, Women into Manufacturing and Engineering

Dr Kirsty Clode of Women into Manufacturing and Engineering shares key insights into promoting diversity within industry

I didn’t follow a traditional career path for a girl. I loved science and maths at school and had a brilliant and inspirational chemistry teacher called Mr Pinches. After school I thought a career in the chemical industry would be exciting so completed a BSc and PhD in Chemistry. This got me into BP, the Oil and Gas major, where I worked for 27 years until 2016. I worked in areas ranging from research and technology to plant operations, safety and assurance and thoroughly enjoyed working with many fabulous people around the world. I lived and worked in both South Korea and the US (twice) and travelled to amazing places like Azerbaijan, Australia and Canada. I didn’t realise it until quite late in my career but I was really breaking some boundaries.

One of the things I’m passionate about is diversity …………. not just ethnicity or gender but the diversity of thinking. From my experience as a leader in this industry, diverse teams produce better results and are more successful over time. My current passion is encouraging more girls and women to test the same boundaries I did and consider a career in this exciting industry. The data I’ve seen shows that girls are just as good as boys at STEM subjects at school but the majority of them don’t continue to study them above GCSE. This means that they are missing out on many amazing career paths and companies are missing out on this great pool of talent.

I’m not alone in wanting more women to be part of our workforce. Women into Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME) is a business led collaborative programme in the Humber, supported by Green Port Hull in partnership with Job Centre Plus. We set it up in 2016 when 3 companies in Hull highlighted difficulty in attracting female talent to their organisations. I chair the WiME programme which is full of amazing ladies. We work with over 20 Humber businesses in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors, our local schools and colleges plus the National Careers Week team.

I recognised early on that ‘it’s hard to be what you cannot see’.  We therefore run events to raise the profile of the many inspiring women who work in these industries such as Kelly and Lewanda above. I have benefited in my career from having great people around me and some fantastic mentors.  I hope that by providing girls and ladies with access to role models like Kelly and Lewanda we can show them that they can do it too.

WIME graphic

The WiME Partners passionately believe that girls and women should know about the fabulous opportunities open to them in manufacturing and engineering so we go to great efforts to showcase the incredible careers they can offer and the variety of routes you can take to them, including apprenticeships.  The results have been hugely positive and I’m confident that as more girls and women meet women like themselves already working in these industries the number of females in our workforce will continue to grow.

To hear from Dr Kirsty Clode and many more speakers including the Wise Campaign and the Royal Society join us at The Women in STEM Conference 2018 on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 in Central London.