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Girls and STEM careers

Tracey Radford | 31 Oct 2014 | Comments

I had the opportunity this week to attend the Women of the Future awards where many talented women were shortlisted for a variety of awards. The last award was for mentor of the year which went to Vanessa Ogden, headteacher of Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, who, drawing upon the wealth of talent in the room, congratulated everyone for their part in inspiring the next generation. This mirrors the purpose of STEMNET, an organisation which has engaged with industry and educators alike to raise the profile and sell the career opportunities available to scientists, mathematicians and engineers by emphasising how they contribute significantly to the economic health and wealth of a nation.

With a new set of challenges, the second STEM Awards have just been launched, the categories include Technology; Energy; Automotive; Pharmaceutical; and Design in the Built Environment (construction) as sponsored by Atkins. These awards present undergraduates with the opportunity to win £25,000 but most crucially a bespoke mentoring programme – what an opportunity!

Not every school has a Vanessa Ogden and not every mentor wins awards, but we must all look to engage with the youngest minds and encourage the brightest and most creative to become scientists and engineers and help give that careers advice first hand from the industry. I guarantee your efforts will not go unnoticed, whether you get involved in the classroom encouraging primary school children to be inquisitive about engineering and the sciences, or help give careers advice to the teenager who still has no idea what career to follow. Many who enter our industry can recall the person who first inspired their career. I can, it was and still is my dad…so why not let it be you?

You may have also seen the recent feature in the Daily Telegraph, where I talked about my career at Atkins and the challenges we all face in making STEM subjects and careers more attractive to girls.