Changing the face of STEM: Creating new opportunities for women
I'm President of the Watt Women in STEM Society at Heriot-Watt University, and I'm also in my final year of my chemical engineering degree.
My dream for our society's future is that it will continue to expand and get more female (and male) students involved to improve the gender imbalance in STEM disciplines.
I became inspired to create a group for female STEM students at the end of my third year – a year since completing my Athena Swan research project. During my project, I had the privilege of gaining insight into a supportive working environment and could immediately see the benefit this had for other women, including myself. I began drafting ideas on how the Athena Swan scholars could stay connected which led me to begin the Watt Women in STEM group. The society is only one and a half years old, yet it has grown from the seed of an idea to a society which is now 40+ in number with a committee of 13.
Connections and community
My dream for our society's future is that it will continue to expand and get more female (and male) students involved to improve the gender imbalance in STEM disciplines. Our mission is to empower our members to achieve their potential by offering a range of events, both industrial and social, to develop their skills and broaden their networks – but I believe we do much more than this. We create inspiring connections and meaningful relationships: A community.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, we were excited to announce the Watt Women Awards. We envisaged a lavish dress-up evening complete with dinner, keynote speaker and an annual awards celebration ceremony to recognise outstanding females in STEM – believe me there are many!
We are however, planning to launch our public engagement and outreach programme which will help to introduce more school age children to the fascinating world of STEM.
Given our success last year with children from Currie Primary School, we are hoping to expand on this and lead more sessions with other schools in Edinburgh.