The power of networks
I’d never heard of STEM Ambassadors until I saw a post on social media one day. My fellow 90 Day Mentoring Challenge participant, Chime Okure, had posted about his STEM activities. I found his post about the importance of promoting STEM really interesting. Then, quite by chance, another of my contacts, the MVP Megan Walker posted a video for a STEM Careers Talk. Hmmm … there must be something to this … I decided I had to find out more!
It turns out STEM Ambassadors have a huge part to play in encouraging marginalised groups to pursue opportunities they might not normally consider. And they do this in a number of ways as the image above shows.
Mother and daughter experiences
There are many very good reasons to become a STEM Ambassador. There is a great STEM website that explains some of the reasons you might want to consider it. I guess each person has their own experiences of STEM and therefore their own personal reasons to want to make a change. My own experience as a woman working in the Technology industry has been that it has often been a lot more difficult for me than male counterparts. There is a huge amount of gender bias in Tech, based upon dated gender stereotypes. I am very keen that we move on from ideas like (as expressed by one of my previous managers) ‘a woman’s place is at the kitchen sink’.
For things to change, we need to have a lot more female representation in Tech. We need to understand why more girls do not take up careers in Technology, or other STEM subjects. One of my daughters had been particularly good at Science and had wanted to make it her career right up until she was 12 years old. Suddenly, and without any obvious reason, she lost all interest. I decided to do a little research and discovered this is all too common. There is a general trend for girls to drop STEM subjects at around that age.
Being the change
There may be a ‘vicious circle’ at work here. I suspect that many girls don’t go into STEM because there are fewer female role models so STEM subjects are perceived to be ‘male oriented’. Because of this, women are under-represented at all levels. This in turn affects progression, which means there are fewer female role models … and around we go …
I believe that if we are going to break this cycle and make a change for good, those of us who can make a difference have a duty to do so.
I applied to become a STEM Ambassador last year. It was a very simple process, beginning with a registration on the STEM Ambassador website. Following the necessary checks, I was accepted in March and began registering for STEM activities right away. I have already given 5 hours, and have lots more activities lined up this year. To anyone considering a similar path, I can totally recommend it, it is so rewarding. And as someone much wiser than me once said ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.