In celebration of International Women's Day 2021 we collated a number of inspiring declarations from our future leaders, detailing what it means to be female in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths sectors.
Working with our partner Ron Dearing UTC, as part of The Harper Fox Alliance: From Classroom to boardroom, we asked a number of female students to write a paragraph answering the question 'What does it mean to you to be a future female leader in STEM?'.
The students went above and beyond our expectations, providing some excellent and inspiring declarations which are presented below:
Natalie Bamforth, Age 17
What does it mean to you to be a future female leader in STEM?.
As a woman in stem it is empowering, but it’s also difficult, and no one prepares you for the difficulties that come, however with these challenges, come lessons. I’ve taught myself to never feel undervalued due to anyone’s opinion of me, of what I want to achieve, I have persevered, I have disciplined myself and gained confidence in the process. It is important that more women take on stem subjects because in my experience being around more women that are interested in the engineering field helps you gain self-assurance. I think it’s important that women start embracing their role and career options in stem because women will show a new perspective in these fields. It’s vital that women start gaining more confidence in these fields even if the majority are men. I wanted to follow through with engineering to make a difference, I was inspired by the beauty of earth, and how in reality some engineering projects do not protect the earth they destroy it, so I wanted to do engineering to find different ways to carry out these projects with more sustainable pathways, and carrying out engineering projects to regenerate our planet and not contribute to its decline.
Lucy Good, Age 16
When I was younger, I wanted to be a F1 racing driver. I found the mechanic side of it interesting as I had a petrol quad bike from the age of 6, and I wouldn't let anyone maintain it such as changing the battery, cleaning spark plug and adding petrol. I learnt all the basics by watching my dad. Within a couple of years, I moved onto track days, driving experiences and races, I also followed the only female F1 driver Suzie Wolf. She was an inspiration to me as she proved all the male drivers she can drive as good even better than them, which is the same for female engineers now a days, only 13% of engineers are females and all express that they have to prove themselves repeatedly to get the same level of respect and recognition as their colleagues.
I want people to see me as an engineer not a female engineer, and to have fellow engineers see me as an equal. I want to be able to educate people that an engineer doesn’t mean you have to be male. I’ve already proven to my teachers’ females are capable of learning and being able to become a successful engineer.
Catherine Crees, Age 16
When considering the question, ‘what does it mean to you to be a future female leader in STEM?’. I decided to ask some women in my fitness group and my life the question. A number of them replied with information about their own career in STEM and what it means to them and to where they got too, some are project leaders, others have leadership roles in mechanical engineering and software engineering. Their input has shown that women can and do become leaders in STEM, it has also shown that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. From their experiences the world of STEM is evolving as discrimination against women has lessened.
My hope as a potential future leader in STEM, is that the role is genderless. Meaning that the role is given to the best possible person for the job. Whether they are a woman, man, or of the LGBTQ+ community. My hope as women going into STEM is everyone is equal and respected and has the opportunity to show what they can do and rises to the level of management they aspire too.
Ellie Clayton, 18 years old
What it means to me to be a future female leader in STEM:
As a young teen, I always dreamed of being an individual who would be over -looking the production of innovation such as bio-fuel or the creation of sustainable building/ architecture, I wanted to do that because it would change the world around us and to say that I was part of the team in which generated a positive change upon the planet is a dream in which many people hold however not many will work for to make it a reality. As a woman there are so many stereotypes and expectations but that just pushes me further to try and break the ‘typical’ expectations for a woman. Breaking the expectations will allow to me to show my true potential and knowledge which many people never believed in.
Amelia Griffiths, Age 17
I think to be successful in STEM as a woman, you need to have the drive to make a difference to how you are perceived, start by setting an example to the younger generation. There are no stereotypes, a woman in STEM is like a man in STEM, they are treated equal; there are just less women mostly down to societies expectations. Gender does not affect your ability to become an engineer, becoming an engineer is defined by your capabilities and your skills. As a woman you have to fight past the opinions people have and do what feels right for you. You have to recognise that you have the intelligence, the drive, and the capability to build a career for yourself. Your gender makes no difference in how well you perform, in an industry mostly comprised of men, you have to embrace your dreams and face the challenges thrown at you.
Evie Hadfield, Age 17
As future female leaders we are showing that STEM is for anyone, male or female, and we are breaking now outdated stereotypes. For me, to be a future leader in STEM means to continue to inspire more girls to take up a career in this pathway without it having to seem ‘against the norm’. I also think that when there are more female leaders in the industry, it will give many more girls something to aspire and relate to as they will represent what is possible as a female in STEM.
Every year at Ron Dearing there seems to be more girls joining and I think it is important that as the current female students we continue to show what is possible and encourage more girls to make the leap as a future student.
Name: Aimée Laws, Age 17
For me, it means a step towards equality and opening up spaces, like education and jobs in STEM, for all women. That includes women of colour, in the LGBTQ+ community, from all backgrounds and places in their own life. Having more woman in this industry should be more normalised, where I don’t leave people disbelieved when I tell them I’m perusing a
path in engineering or digital technology. Also, it lets me know that it is possible to become successful as a woman in STEM and makes room to believe that discrimination won’t stop any woman – whether someone queer, POC or transgender – leading in such a male dominated industry.
Rhiannon Lowther, Age 17
What does it mean to be a woman in STEM? I think that it’s rather exciting and fascinating to be a woman in the Engineering industry as the whole of the United Kingdom there is only 12.37% of women that are Engineers, and Ron Dearing has given me the potential to become a young female Engineer, and I want to promote the idea that woman can also be an Engineer and apart of STEM.
The last two years at Ron Dearing have shown me that there are a lot of young woman interested in STEM. At my secondary school there was only two females including myself that did Engineering in my class out of thirty.
I am rather exited to see that potentials I will have after Ron Dearing. STEM affects everyone’s lives on a day-to-day basis. I think that if a woman ran her own team it might make other young woman want to be a part of STEM.
Rana Maglad, Age 16
Every year on the 11th of February, a celebration for the international day of Women and Girls in science calls everyone to smash stereotypes, defy genders biases and defeat discrimination that holds women and girls back in the STEM Fields.
What it means to me to be a future female leader in STEM has quite a large impact. It is important to be a role model to the rest of your female audience and making sure the correct message is presented forward when speaking about international women’s day. Myself as a Muslim can also have an impact on women of any religion, and possibly making a difference in boosting confidence to other female Muslims in STEM.
Besides this, it is important that females are represented to use their skills and talents through their work in science and all stereotypes that are shown throughout the past and current years, being a leader includes a level of passion for the topic and making sure that other females see you as a role model.
Felicity Robson, Age 17
For me to be a future leader in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math departments as a female means a lot to me as I have worked hard to achieve my grades and have always pushed my limits on what I can do. I believe that women in this career have a lot of potential in being leaders and I have attended multiple Women in Mechanical Engineering open days helping and explaining how important women are in this career path. As a young student, seeing powerful women doing these jobs increases engagement, awareness and understanding in what the jobs can potentially lead to. If I become a future female leader in STEM I would encourage female students to join this career as it covers a lot of different aspects in multiple jobs all around the world.
Kate Hickingbottom, Age 16
Studying STEM is an amazing opportunity for me to explore what has always fascinated me - STEM is constant around the world and it’s a global community with a common language. It has made me realise that the world is far bigger than my hometown; a discovery in one corner of the Earth could change lives worldwide and I think that’s so important.
I feel lucky to have a supportive education available to me in this country, which other girls don’t always have. So, I want to carry on discovering as much as I can through studying STEM to be able to give back to the world in valuable ways that I’m passionate about – I’d like to inspire other girls to not be afraid of studying STEM.
However, although I’m writing about how I feel as a girl in this industry, I feel that STEM shouldn’t have a gender attached to it. Therefore, I hope that by continuing to study and succeed in STEM, I can help normalise women being leaders in the industry based solely on their abilities - not their gender.
Ryah Russel, Age 17
Despite the growing encouragement and efforts to bring more young women into engineering, the industry is still both heavily populated and influenced by men. With only a small percentage of the industry being women, the amount of diversity is minimal and therefore the variety of experiences and perspectives that could be used to solve problems is low. By increasing the number of women in this predominantly male industry we can create more innovative and useful methods and components than ever before, by using the more diverse experiences and minds being welcomed into the industry. When I first decided that I wanted to be an engineer, the focus on bringing more women into engineering was only just getting started and so since then, the respect and value for women within businesses has sky-rocketed, and girls no longer have to worry about not getting jobs and they don’t have to be concerned about what others are thinking. Before I got into engineering, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do, all I knew was that I wanted to make a difference in how things are done, and I wanted to get myself out in the world. Becoming an engineer has given me chances to try things I never thought I would and has the opportunities to travel doing the thing I love.
Jasmine Scoffins, Age 17
For years, women were told that they would not succeed in STEM areas. The glass ceiling took its place. Looking back into our history, we see that Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, and Ada Lovelace have helped pave the path for each new female generation to walk on. With their scientific and technological advancements, more windows of opportunity have been opened.
In current times, more females are finding it easier to get into STEM-oriented studies, and are learning about computers, engineering and mechanics. Schools are more nurturing to
the ideas that a woman can be the boss and hold authority as well as a man. The thought that I, myself, could one day be a leader is uplifting. There are less barriers for women in the workplace as well as society itself. When we are taught that we can do anything that our male counterparts can do, it gives us confidence, as we bring new outlooks and ideas to the table. In my Computer Science class alone, I am 1 of 3 women, in a room of roughly 20. Less females make the choice to study STEM subjects as it isn’t as common for female to study in these very male subject areas. It seemed intimidating at first, then I realised I was just as capable as everyone else around me.
Rhiannen Shepherdson, Age 16
For me to be a future female leader in STEM would be fantastic, because I then could showcase that women can be just as great at common stereotypical “male based” sectors. As there are not many women seen to be in such topics, I feel like it would be a privilege to be among people, be that men or women who enjoy the same type of work. Also, if I were to be a future female stem leader, I would make sure I inspire women alike me to use their talents to do great things with engineering. I feel like women need to beat the male stereotype and show others we are much more than what we are perceived as to be able to do. As an engineering student too, I would say that you don’t see very many female engineers. I myself do not know any famous women engineers and if I don’t know many considering the job ideas I would love to make my profession, I doubt a whole lot of people who aren’t into such topics would know them either. So, I would love to make an impact in the engineering world for women and make more women noticed if possible, to show anyone can do it no matter their sex.
Amber van Raamsdonk, Age 16
I chose to take a future job in STEM specifically engineering as it fascinates me, engineering is about being creative in a wide range of different fields. An over time they have become more skilled in their projects with more knowledge of technology and science with in what they produce out into the world, which amazes me of what we can do. And being a part of something that can one day change the world by making an impact would to me be something to be very proud to be a part of. And seeing over the years encouragement of women to join in the engineering industry inspires me and welcomes me to join in their paths and hope one day to encourage more women to join along.
Scarlett van Raamsdonk, Age 18
In the STEM industry alone, it creates all sorts of opportunities and new experiences to participate in, the engineering and technology we learn is key to the future, in a sense without it we won’t be moving forward, alongside them they require math and science as it is essential for the understanding of it. Therefore, being a woman in the STEM business, is empowering and encouraging as in the past not many women were involved, now every year it increases and to be part of something major and something that is used in everyday life gives me a sense of pride but to also be inspiring more women that engineering is also an opportunity and a road they are able to go down for them, is important.
Cody-may whitehead, Age 16
It means that because there are not many female leaders or females as a matter of fact r in STEM, this means I can inspire more females to take part and go against the incorrect stereotypes that women aren’t strong enough or smart enough or shouldn’t be taking part in subjects such as STEM. Not only will this mean that because there are not many females in this industry that companies are more likely to hire a woman now due to the STEM plan, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have to work as hard as it will get handed to me. This means if anything I must work harder to prove that I can do it and I can be part and thrive because of the choices I have taken for my education.
Name lily knight, Age 15
Being a student in STEM gives me a wide opportunity for experience which therefore means I have the same opportunities as a male and I can make a difference for other females who aren’t confident enough to study in STEM because If I don’t make a change who will. It also feels very empowering and make a difference in terms of becoming a future female leader.