Just ahead of British Science Week and International Women’s Day, nearly 200 school girls at Arts Media School Islington in London spent an afternoon meeting women STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) professionals and then watched ‘Hidden Figures’, the film about women of colour working at NASA.
The event, partly funded by public donations and partly by Accenture, involved 11 women, mainly women of colour, from across a variety of STEM fields including user interface engineering, data analytics, genetic research, software engineering and more. The professionals spent nearly an hour having lunch with 50 young women, again mainly women of colour, in Year 10 at the school, discussing their careers and giving advice.
After lunch the Year 10s, were joined by girls from Years 9 and 8, where 10 of them received £50 grants, from the Accenture representatives, to further their interest in STEM. Finally, the young women settled down to watch ‘Hidden Figures’, an inspiring story of the generally unrecognised role women of colour played in NASA’s efforts to put the first American in space.
The event was organised to inspire young women of colour to consider pursuing careers in STEM subjects. Women make up just 23% of those working in STEM occupations and women of colour are a tiny of proportion of that number.
Miss Henry, Head of Science at Arts and Media School Islington, said: “The students were buzzing with excitement at the prospect of more contact with these dynamic scientists. They really enjoyed the experience.”
Thalia, aged 15, one of the students, said: “It was a really good experience because I had lunch with a Genetic Researcher who studies DNA. It showed me that women can have amazing careers. We can actually get there – it’s not just a dream!”
Aaliyah, also aged 15, and one of the grant recipients, said: “It was great fun being together with girls and talking to STEM professionals. On our table was a Pharmaceutical specialist. She told us that she had no idea these professions existed when she was our age, so I am definitely going to start looking at what courses I can do.”