As a child I always showed interest in how things worked. The house was full of Lego that would keep me occupied for hours, I loved watching science shows on television and I never grumbled about having to do maths homework. Childhood me had no idea that science and maths were deemed ‘not for girls.’
But as I got older, the realities set in. When I received toys with instructions to build at Christmas, the manuals would quickly be taken off me in favour of a man doing the job, and when I would ask to play with my nephew’s science kits, it was often met with ‘no that’s for boys,’ or a suggestion that I should play with dolls instead. Other than being mildly annoyed at the time, the fact that ‘science is for boys’ wasn’t a thought that bothered me too much. In fact, by the time I hit my teenage years I hated nothing more than science and maths and while I was interested in technology, it was purely from a standpoint that I wanted to know how to work the latest tech, not to code or create my own. To me, science just wasn’t for girls and that was fine.
It’s only in the more recent years of my life that the void of women in STEM careers has become clear to me.
Just one in four people working in core STEM roles in the UK are women. As a large energy company EDF Energy is reliant on STEM skills not only to deliver a low-carbon energy future but also to create a smarter energy solutions. It’s important they can recruit from the widest talent pool possible including a new generation of STEM advocates.
Pretty Curious, now entering its third year, is focused on raising awareness of the under-representation of girls in STEM; giving them relatable role models. As I mentioned, the Pretty Curious programme aims to inspire girls to pursue STEM-related subjects at school and in their future careers. The campaign has given girls a real sense of what it might be like to work in STEM careers by providing hands-on experiences and digital content, which you can take part in on the website such as:
Create a sharable and personalised avatar in a STEM-related career to picture yourself in a potential future role ranging from a biologist to an electrical engineer. If you’re not sure what the future could hold, take the easy personality quiz to see what career may be best suited to your interests.
Watch 360º videos to experience a day in the life of the architect of the Shard, see what it’s like to work on a wind farm or explore the offices of a software with everyday amazing women.
To celebrate their programme, EDF Energy sent me a Droid Inventor kit to create my very own R2D2.
I’ve always thought of myself as not very technologically minded, when in actuality it’s more that I’ve never done anything like this before. I remember sitting in technology lessons at school rolling my eyes at the mention of soldering and breadboards. What I didn’t realise is that there’s far more to technology than making buzzers and lights. Of course, these are the basics and you need to be able to do these things before embarking on bigger projects, but if someone had told me I could make a little robot that would scoot around my kitchen, I think I would have been a little more interested.
I’m definitely a big kid at heart so I had so much fun making the droid, granted it was a little easier than soldering anything, but it really inspired me to find out more about what I’d made.
The truth is, as little girls, we’re just not encouraged to seek out careers involving science or engineering. I don’t like to focus on the past but I often wonder where my life could have taken me had society given me a little more encouragement to excel in the fields that I was good at as a child, rather than steering me away from them, to more ‘feminine’ jobs.