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7TH MAR 2024

Celebrating Women in STEM for International Women's Day

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International Womens Day 2024
International Womens Day 2024

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) coincides with the start of British Science Week – also known as STEM Week. With the theme of this year’s IWD being Inspire Inclusion, what better way to celebrate than highlighting some of GC’s amazing woman lecturers in STEM areas – that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; areas that are traditionally seen as male-dominated.

From games designers to airline engineers, our lecturers have worked on some amazing things and work every day to inspire more women to be included in STEM areas.

Here they’ve told us what they love about teaching young women, why they think more women should be involved in STEM, and the things they wish more women knew about working in their fields.

Kanyin Olayomi, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering

I think at times you need to see it to believe, you need to feel representation matters. Being able to visualise yourself in a career that you perhaps hadn’t considered before is really important - to see images of yourself reflected in things you find interesting.

Throughout engineering and technology you can see some really important contributions made by women. Girls might like Lego and taking things apart and putting them back together, but where do you go from there? It’s important to see yourself reflected in what you love to do.

For me, I love seeing students have the lightbulb moment when they get something, and hearing students’ opinions about recent developments in engineering. For example, the ethics in AI, new prototypes like the Tesla Optimus Robot – hearing whether they think it’s a good invention or not.

 

Nahid Mosharraf, Lecturer in Construction

Women should be involved in the construction industry. We need to change our mindset when we only think of people doing the construction.  The main thing is that it’s up to women where they want to be, and there’s loads of things they can enjoy doing.

Women can work on the architectural side, they can work on building technology and the software, they can develop the design of buildings and do calculations for the costs of materials. It’s not just about the bricklaying and labour!

We don’t work with the same technology anymore – you see things like 3D printers, robotics, and drones being used and it’s changing everything in construction. We can construct buildings in 6 months with things like prefabrication.

Imagine designing a building and then seeing it come to life – it’s a dream for anyone!

 

Nicola Muller

Nicola Muller, Lecturer in Engineering

The perspective of what engineering is like can be very stuffy. You should just have a go! I was really good at maths and physics and I wasn’t sure how I could use that. I liked finding a way to apply it real life problems – and that’s what engineering is. You’ll be troubleshooting and problem solving most of the time.

There are so many different kinds of engineering that you can get involved with and it’s worth finding out all the different ones.

It’s great having the opportunity to inspire young women to come into the field and it’s a responsibility to make it happen. Studies have shown that having a greater diversity of people bring a breath of balance and better perspective of decisions. It’s a great career it’s really enjoying and satisfying.

Nicola Muller

 

Ella Wallace, Lecturer in Games Design and Development

Computing and Games have a massive gender imbalance. The field of computing started with women and has been formed by women throughout time. Women were regarded as being more methodical and precise but computing has always been taught as a male discipline.

When we teach games development, it’s a super wide field that goes from technical mathematical aspects like programming to more creative parts like artistry. It’s always interesting to me how many games I grew up with were created by women, and they tend to have more appealing plot lines and emotional journeys, I really like that.

We’re lucky that we can choose to do that which we love, that we enjoy, and what drives us.

It’s a really big privilege if young women are enjoying games and thinking about how games work. As long as you have passion and drive there’s a place for you in this industry. The number of women in the industry is increasing every year – we’re doing a lot of impressive things!

I’m also a Woman in Games Ambassador – it’s an organisation whose role is to do talks and portfolio reviews, mentorship programmes and things to help women get into games. There’s any number of ways you can get into it.

Women helped me along the way, they were hugely influential for me, and supporting women coming into games is just me repaying the favour other women have done for me. And I only hope that other people I help will do the same and create this rippling effect.

 

Osesie Sallau, Lecturer in Computing

It’s important to be a role model. First of all, young people can’t dream to be what they can’t see. I want women in the classroom to think, “If this person could do it, I could do it. She looks like me, she sounds like me, she has similar challenges.” It’s important for young girls to see other women like that.

Computing is a fast-growing profession and it’s a job for the future. The more females we have going in that direction means it’s a step towards closing the gender pay gap. It’s a job that affects various industries; take art for example, how can you create software applications that can be used to enhance your skillset?

Several industries are going to need people with these skills as they digitise their systems more – and it’s fun!

You can still have your personal interests and use computing to digitise that and make it more accessible. Computing is about increasing accessibility to information, to products, to services. It’s important for girls to contribute their unique experiences through computing.

 

Holly Lyne, Associate Lecturer in Computing

I think it’s really important to have women in STEM because IT is such a typically male dominated industry, having women as well offers lots of different viewpoints. It’s about keeping it diverse and having people from different backgrounds.

Seeing a lot of men can feel discouraging – having female members teachers at college feels a bit more reassuring, and it feels really fulfilling being able to be a part of that.

There are lots of communities and groups around that support women in STEM, from competitions in schools and lots of organisations that can help support you into that. Go ahead and seek that out!

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