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Girl Power! Women in Bio-Technology and Engineering conference

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Women are under-represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects – and careers. To help encourage more sixth form students to consider these subjects for study and employment, St. Mary’s School in Cambridge organised a Girl Power conference with an exceptional and inspiring range of speakers and workshops.

Four Long Road students attended:

  • Hannah Davy – Biology, Chemistry and History A levels
  • Alice Gilioli – Biology, Chemistry, Use of Maths and Spanish A levels
  • Weronika Robak – Biology, Chemistry, Use of Maths, Business A levels
  • Abbie Lowe – Biology, Chemistry and English Literature A levels

Dame Mary Archer started the day with a talk about the Science of Good Health. Dr Jasmin Fisher, who is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, talked about her career path; Professor Cecilia Mascola, Professor of Mobile Systems in the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, gave a talk entitled ‘Beyond Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat: The Secrets of Mobile Phone Sensing’; and Dr Ursula Grabowska, Contract Research Organisation and External Collaborations Manager at Medivir, talked about bone health and opportunities for scientists in drug discovery.

There was also a panel of speakers – a wide range of successful women in science and engineering – and breakout groups:

  • Keeping doors open – the real value of science in the sixth form
  • Designing with humans in mind
  • Nanotechnology
  • Individual careers chats
  • Making a digital device

Dr Hilarie Bateman, Admissions Tutor at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, gave a talk entitled ‘University Applications: Aiming High – your expectations and ours’.

The day was concluded with final reflections by Charlotte Avery, Head Mistress of St Mary’s School.

Our four students were extremely grateful to be given such an excellent opportunity. Hannah says: “I enjoyed listening to woman from different fields of STEM subjects and hearing their stories. It was inspirational for me to hear these successful women prove to me that I can still achieve my goal in a brilliant career in sciences as well as having a fantastic family and social life!”

Alice comments: “The day was lovely, and the women were so inspiring! They showed that scientists are not just scientists but are everyday people as well! The message I came away with is ‘There is no one pathway to follow for your future, because you have to make it.'”

Abbie added: “There were so many inspiring talks, which I found extremely helpful, and which gave me ideas of future careers in science. I have learned that there are many different ways of achieving a career in science.”

Weronika concludes: “I really enjoyed the event, and I found it very interesting to learn about different fields in STEM. I particularly liked the individual chats with the scientists, because I had an opportunity to ask them questions directly about their education and the jobs they’re doing now. I found out what good universities expect from me, and now I know what I need to do in order to be successful.  I feel really inspired after listening to all these successful women, especially Jasmin, who has never stopped aiming higher!”

Paul Andrew, Biology course team leader at Long Road, concludes: “This was an extraordinary event – to be able to meet so many successful women in STEM careers all in one day was a truly outstanding opportunity for our students. I am extremely grateful to St Mary’s for organising this excellent conference.”

Photo from left: Hannah Davy, Alice Gilioli and Weronkia Robak