Pretty Curious With EDF Energy

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:

Future Me avatar and quiz

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.

Virtual reality film

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.

 

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Bossy Women

The other day I was told I was assertive. In all of my twenty five years on this planet, I can’t think of a single time where anyone has used the word assertive to describe me. I’m just not. I’m opinionated, I’m stubborn but I’ve never thought of myself as assertive.

I shy away from conflict, I hate any kind of attention being on me and while I would probably go away and moan about someone’s behaviour, I would never, ever bring it up with them unless it was affecting someone else.

Last week my coursemates and I were taking part in a clinical simulation activity. There was an actor pretending to be a patient and we were instructed to undertake the scenario as we would if we were qualified nurses (nine months to go until that’s a reality, scary scary.) We finished the scenario and then it was time for feedback.

We all spoke highly positively of each other’s performances and negatively of our own, as is always the way with group feedback and then we hit a sticking point. Every single one of us said we felt awkward about being assertive, we were worried it would come across as bossy, despite the fact we were practicing a scenario where someone’s life was at stake.

Why is it that a room full of women are so concerned about coming across as abrasive that we would finish taking part in an activity that we all did well in because we were being assertive and we were worried about it afterwards?

When women assert themselves, it’s bossiness.

When men do it, they’re being leaders.

This isn’t news to me. I’ve seen it time and time again but this was the first time I’d really experienced it. So I went away and had a little read about it and found some really interesting statistics (here’s the full article). It turns out that when women are criticised for being bossy or abrasive, it’s usually by other women.

So how about we stop doing that?

I’m certainly no saint when it comes to being less than kind about other women. We’ve all done it. We’ve all rolled our eyes at a woman we perceive to be bossy, gossiped behind someone’s back for being too ‘stand-offish’ when actually they were just trying to get their point across (usually in a room full of men who dismiss their words.) There’s only so much we can do to get men to take us more seriously instead of calling us bossy, but as women we can certainly change our own attitudes.

Here are a few ways we can support our fellow women instead of contributing to the ‘bossy women’ phenomenon.

Lift other women up

By empowering others and celebrating their successes you’re not taking away from your own. When you see a woman doing great things, don’t just tell her, tell everyone!

Use your platform

Whether you’re a woman in a position of power or just someone that spends a lot of time on Twitter, use your platforms for good. Stand up for others in team meetings, retweet female successes and if you hear anyone suggest a woman is being bossy rather than assertive, fight them (preferably verbally).

Educate Yourself

Don’t be ignorant to the gender inequalities going on around you. Read about it, talk about it, just don’t shy away from it. I sometimes find it hard to talk about inequality because I don’t want to get things wrong or feel like I’m not knowledgable enough, but the only way you can feel more knowledgable is by continued learning.

Rachel x-x-x

 

 

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