International Women in Engineering Day: Q&A with Co-Founder of STEMettes
Stemettes is an award-winning social enterprise showing the next generation that girls do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). To date they’ve worked with over 14, 000 young women across the UK & Ireland and Head Stemette, Anne-Marie Imafidon, was recently awarded an MBE for services to young women and STEM sectors. Campaign Manager Jessica Ireland had the privilege of interviewing co-founder, Jacquelyn Guderley to hear what she had to say to young women thinking of taking up a career in STEM.
When did you become interested in STEM?
I became interested in STEM when I was working as a management consultant for Accenture. I attended the launch of Stemettes and met the founder, Anne-Marie Imafidon. I was completely blown away by the passion and determination of these girls and young women - some as young as five years old - to do what they wanted to do (STEM) or learn about this industry that was crying out for girls. I later left Accenture to become the first employee at Stemettes, eventually becoming Cofounder and Managing Director.
Having not come from a STEM background, what excites you about working in STEM?
The opportunity to inspire girls into a sector which is creating the future. To access jobs that will be lucrative and challenging for them. And to be able to eventually work in a STEM industry which treats women and men as equals. I enjoyed my time working in the technology sector and will continue to do so.
What advice would you give young women who aren’t sure about whether they are interested in studying or working in STEM?
Find role models and talk to them. Ask them about their experiences, what they love and what they hate, and tell them about your doubts and worries. Their experience will mean that they can help you through these. The more women you talk to, the broader a view you will have on the industry and it's likely to be more accurate. I recommend attending Stemettes workshops as they are full of female STEM role models who they can talk to, and they can also learn to code during these workshops, which might be a sector they're interested in (but maybe they didn't know it!).
How do you feel the technology industry is changing?
The percentage of the UK STEM workforce that is women has risen from just 12% in 2012 to 21% in 2016. Strength comes in numbers.
Also many companies - along with other industries in the UK - realise the benefit that a gender-balanced workforce can bring them and are making a real effort to try and make a change. The situation can only improve and so I would say to any girl or young woman - or even any woman of any age thinking about making the switch - to really consider joining the industry if it interests them.
Follow Jacquelyn on Twitter! @jacsgud