Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.
What are you doing to celebrate #AdaLovelaceDay?
Recently, I was featured as part of Tay-Yibah Aziz’s film about women in science.
As part of her project, Tay spoke to women scientists from Bristol and the surrounding area about their journeys through science and work in their fields.
This video forms part of her MSc thesis project studying role models in science and how to encourage more young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers.
In partnership with: The University of the West of England Bristol Robotics Laboratory The University of Bristol.
What’s that you can hear? That is the sound of scientists across the UK slamming their heads against a desk repeatedly, because today the House of Commons announced the members of the Science and Technology Committee, and it doesn’t look good.
The Science and Technology Committee is in place to inform governmental policy and decision-making, and to ensure that these processes are founded on good science and evidence. You can imagine that for such a committee, devised to lend their expertise to critique and hold government to account surrounding matters concerning science in the UK, the House of Commons would be expected to gather MPs with scientific experience from diverse backgrounds. This would be the logical answer, to ensure that the issues facing science in its lack of diversity, climate change and Brexit, are properly addressed with careful consideration and experience. However, the Science and Technology Committee that was revealed today was as a sea of men, with only two committee members having any experience of science.
The committee made up of Norman Lamb MP, Bill Grant MP, Darren Jones MP, Clive Lewis MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP, Neil O’Brien MP, Graham Stringer MP and Martin Whitfield MP, lacks the diversity and background that is required to properly fulfil its role. With one of the main problems facing STEM industries being the lack of women, how can we expect this committee to consider this issue and value this concern when there isn’t any women sitting on the committee to provide this voice?
Another great issue facing science (and the world) is climate change. Therefore we should all feel safe in the knowledge that one of the newly announced members of the Science and Technology Committee is a climate change denier. Despite Graham Stringer, Labour MP, constituting 50% of the scientifically trained members on this committee, with a degree in Chemistry, Graham also is a trustee of the Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group that deny the dangers of climate change.
The reveal of the new committee isn’t reassuring, in the face of the threat of Brexit on STEM industries and the issues within science (such as the lack of women), the presence of a diverse and experienced committee would help to reassure STEM workers that the industry’s best interests would be looked after. However, this is not the case.
With a committee lacking the knowledge needed to fully understand science in the UK or the barriers that lead to inequality in STEM, how can we be sure that the Science and Technology Committee can do its job effectively? I am certainly not convinced.
I’m going to take a break from the normal ‘women in STEM’ blog content to talk about something that has been on my mind for a really long time. I want to talk about what it’s like to be a young professional in Wales, because as someone who is trying to shape a career, I face a dichotomy between wanting to have easy access to the routes to success and a passion to keep talent in Wales.
Wales doesn’t lack talent, we nurture it and built it (and then it leaves via the Severn Bridge and never comes back again).
There is a predictable career timeline for young people in Wales, as we grow up here, are educated here, and then move away for work. Because, as a country Wales struggles economical, with over a quarter of the Welsh population living in poverty and Wales has one of the highest youth employment rates in the UK. Shaping your career here is hard, and myself and my friends have often worked in jobs outside of our field whilst we wait around for relevant employment. When searching, there are often perfectly suitable jobs, or even amazing opportunities, in science communications, but they are all based in London and I categorically refuse to move to London.
This utter denial of London life is only slightly the result of a distain for the cramped and dusty city, and is mostly because, as a Welsh person, I want talent to be kept in (and drawn into) Wales. Building a career in Wales can be a bit of a battle, especially if you in a niche area like science communication and have the aspiration to become a science TV presenter; it would be easier to gather up my things and move to London where the opportunities are fruitful. But I really don’t want to be a part of the perpetual cycle of talent leaving Wales and talent seldom being attracted.
It’s not a ground-breaking statement to say that everything happens in London, and this certainly is true for my industry. My ultimate career goal is to present and work on science TV programmes, and a sizable proportion of science magazines, production companies and STEM organisations are based in and around London. Because of this, it would make sense to move to London as this would grant me access to a greater number of opportunities, but with a potent cocktail of a stubborn nature and a desire to stay in Wales, I have written off this option – at least for now.
However, I fear that this passion to keep working in Wales has an expiration date, especially will the potential ramifications of Brexit on the Welsh labour market. If building a career in Wales or keeping talent in Wales was hard before Brexit, I don’t know what it will be like when our economy isn’t supported by European funding. (So please don’t blame me if you see me ignoring my moral compass and moving to London in a few years’ time.)
I suppose this blogpost doesn’t achieve anything, it is merely a rant about the difficult career choices young people face in Wales. Because as I continue furthering my career in science communication, I feel that I am not only having to hurdle barriers facing women in science, but I feel like I have to ultimately face up to whether I want to sacrifice my morals and my passion for keeping talent in Wales to get there.
(If you weren’t a fan of this non-STEMinist talk, don’t worry, normal broadcasting will now resume.)