We recently worked with our partners at IBM to deliver an outreach event aiming to promote careers in STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) to 80 girls from high schools across the North West.
The students spent the day taking part in a mixture of talks and activities including an innovation workshop, a 3D visualisation demonstration – which took place in the Hartree Centre visualisation suite – a 3D printing demonstration, and careers Q&A with women currently working at IBM and STFC. This gave the girls a valuable opportunity to ask real people working in a technical field their advice and learn about their experiences.
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.
Director of the Hartree Centre, Alison Kennedy, also presented on 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. You can read a full recap of the day and see more pictures here.
We spoke to some of the women who volunteered their time to take part on the day, to find out why this kind of event is important, and how they thought it went:
Ramal Hassan – Technical Solutions Specialist, IBM
“Having been at IBM a mere 2 months, this was my first big event!” Ramal says, “Sci-Tech Daresbury itself was a great location for the event as there was plenty for the students to look at, as well as being a genuine home to technical research.”
During the Q&A sessions, Ramal explains that the students found her situation very relatable as they too were starting to think about their career options. They were keen to know how she got into IBM, the application process and the GCSEs and A levels she had studied, so they could see what they might need to follow a similar path.
“They were full of energy, enthusiasm and confidence which showed that they were having a good time and enjoying the day. It was truly inspiring to see so many young girls interested in the technical field and with high aspirations for the future.”
Katharina Reusch – Data Scientist, IBM
Katharina led the organisation of the event, and was thrilled with how well the day went. “We had a really positive response from the students, who approached the activities with great energy and enthusiasm,” says 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.”
“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.”
Alison Abbott – Technical Solutions Specialist, IBM
“This was my first visit to Sci-Tech Daresbury,” says Alison, “I was very impressed with the campus, it looks like an inspiring place to work.” She goes on to explain that the girls she spoke to in one of the Q&A sessions had a wide range of questions about her role within IBM, along with her school and university history.
“As a mature student, I had to tell them my school days and GCSE exams were a very long time ago!“ She jokes, “The teachers were just as interested in the Q&A session as the students were. I was impressed by the range of questions and found it fantastic to see such enthusiasm for science and technology based careers in their future.”
Eleanor Taylor – Project Management and Finance Support, IBM
“Working in a predominately male area, I know how important it is to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in the technology industry,” Eleanor says. “This event was designed to do that and certainly succeeded in doing so.”
Eleanor spoke to the students about coming to IBM with no prior technical knowledge, for a business gap year placement, with hopes to move on to an apprenticeship next year. The girls were clearly enthused when they realized that working in a technology company could come through various routes. “For example, one of the girls aspired to be a lawyer, and suddenly realized that it didn’t have to be a law firm she joined after education – technology companies need lawyers too!” Eleanor also mentions the high number of girls who wanted a career involving modern technology such as app design, “I feel this reflects the success of the morning innovation workshop, which had involved the girls designing a revision app.”