International Women's Day At Stanmore College 15/03/2021

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International Women’s Day was celebrated at Stanmore College on 11th March 2021. Students and teachers from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) department focused on the 2021 campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge. This celebration raised the significance of creating civil awareness, anti- sexism, anti- discrimination, gender equal pay and the achievements of women.

Students from the Science, IT and Computing, Engineering and Mathematics courses celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 with STEM professionals. Thirty students participated in the 2-hour event where they watched two videos on the ‘choose to challenge IWD theme’. Scientists, IT professionals , Engineers and Mathematicians shared their personal experiences and spoke of challenges they had to face as women on their journey to success. Students subsequently shared their own experiences of challenges that they too had faced. Female engineers enlightened students on how they had managed to stay strong and persevere towards becoming qualified engineers in a male dominated sector. One recalled the invaluable support of her parents and another recalled having been one of only two female students in her class. Both ladies urged the students to follow their hearts and embrace a career in engineering.

The professional scientists shared their experiences which included how they had stood up against bullying and discrimination while at university and throughout career progression thereafter. Their tips included not to be fearful of failure , to embrace challenges and persevere in pursuing their dreams. An IT software engineer explained passionately how her father had supported her in developing public speaking skills and pursuing higher education in IT and Computing when she studied science at school. She emphasized the importance of young females following their instincts in relation to their careers. Mathematicians spoke of a lack of advice and guidance for females on career pathways and having independently made decisions to go into teaching mathematics. Thankfully, females too received advice and guidance these days!

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Experiences of others

Hearing the experiences of others motivated the students and helped them realise that they too can deal with future challenges, embrace independence and succeed in male dominated sectors. So much so, that three young female students took centre stage to share their own experiences despite their youth. An engineering student bravely told of having previously failed in her studies, and how she had faced sexism bullying and had become very demotivated. However, on choosing to pursue a career in engineering at Stanmore College that all changed ‘two of my engineering teachers are female and this has motivated me to really focus on a career in engineering and it confirms that I did make the right decision. I aim to progress to university in Sept 2021 to study Electrical Engineering with a view to work in the electric cars sector’. Stanmore Science students expressed having felt a lack of encouragement to pursue certain careers due to stereotypical views of women from others both relating to professions and cultural dress and beliefs.

Careers Fair

The STEM students also attended a STEM careers fair online which gave them an excellent insight into careers opportunities that exist in STEM. The sessions provide an opportunity to interact with professionals and employers. In the words of an IT and computing student ‘being one of a few women in IT classes, I feel that more women should be encouraged to take part in these fields since it can really be an interesting subject with lots of areas to gain employment. I have really enjoyed studying IT so far and I hope to do an apprenticeship in web development.’ A science learner added ‘I learned of all the different kinds of careers that exist on completion of STEM courses which is encouraging. I have undertaken lots of enjoyable Science and mathematics activities such as a Kitchen science video on liquid lava layers’. An engineering student’s fed back from the remote careers’ fair ‘I could see the flexibility of how network rail can use an employee to carry out their part of a live project. I noticed the safety precautions that took place during the work and the additional precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I really grasped what working on HS2 and modern rail projects is like and I feel enthusiastic as a result of what I saw.’

The event concluded with Vik Seeborun, Head of School, acknowledging how inspirational it had been to hear of the achievements of both qualified female professionals and Stanmore students who were already well on their way to achieving qualifications that would lead them to formerly male dominated careers.