Women in Science and Engineering at Benenden School

On the 5th of October 2016 ITL had the honour of participating in a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) event at Benenden School.

The event was a collaboration between the school, the WISE campaign and the Royal Society of Chemistry and involved female students from years 10-13 (age 15-18) experiencing inspirational talks and networking first-hand with women that are making their mark in Science and Engineering, both in Kent and further afield.

The day was kicked-off by an impassioned plea from Benenden’s Head of Science to think big, not just during the day but way beyond that.

Next up was Professor Becky Parker MBE, Head of Physics at Simon Langton Grammar School and Director of the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS).

What better start to a student event than someone saying:

“When I was your age I wanted to change the world a little bit”

If you haven’t heard of the IRIS then you should really take a look at their website! Their aim is to bring real research opportunities to keen school students in order to change the paradigm of what science teaching means. Since their inception, IRIS has worked on projects like monitoring Tim Peake’s radiation exposure levels on board the international space station and involvement in the search for baby Higgs Boson particles or ‘Higgletts’.

Dr Parker’s enthusiasm was infectious and there was a noticeable buzz in the room as she reeled off story after story of students, just like those in front of her, that have gone on to (and are still doing) amazing things.

She finished with a rousing finisher:

“Break the mould and be a rebel. Say actually, I AM going to do it!”

Keeping the creative vibe going, Dr. Ana Herrera of Ada College London then took to the stage to bust some of the common myths associated with digital careers.

Launched just two months ago at the time of writing, Ada College is a new initiative aimed at preparing today’s students for a career in digital. Something that is now as much a part of everyday business as HR, Accounts and any other function you care to mention.

Ana took the audience through some major myths surrounding digital jobs including:

  • All Tech jobs are about coding
  • I need a Computer Science Degree
  • These jobs are for men

She finished with the empowering tale of Ada Lovelace, the College’s namesake who is credited with writing the first ever computer program as part of a set of notes following the translation of an article.

With links to the likes of IBM, Deloitte and Bank of America, Ada is set to become a sought after route for tomorrow’s digital leaders.

Following a short break, it was straight back in to inspiration by the bucket load.

With Dr Jess Wade, a WISE enthusiast and STEM success in her own right, leading the charge, the audience were introduced by several women (and one man) involved in a whole host of science and engineering related roles.

The panel included Stephanie Robinson, Lead Human Factors Engineer at Marshall ADG whose response to the question “do you ever feel intimidated by men in your workplace” elicited the most perfect response:

“Do I sound intimidated? I know I’m really good at what I do so I get my head down, work hard and show it, then there’s no option not to take me seriously”

Other panel members included Jessica Rowson an Engineer currently working at the Institute of Physics who showed us ‘her’ bridge and Dr Tracy Vine, a pyrotechnics expert who, in her own words “blows stuff up for a living”.

Our very own Sukie Whitehall gave a passionate overview of ITL, Vitl Life Science Solutions and her views on Women in Engineering, including the line:

“Women and Men are equal but we are different.”

Watch her whole introduction here:

After the panel discussion the students were given the opportunity to network amongst themselves, the panellists and other Science and Engineering businesses.

ITL set up a small table to showcase some of the work we do and it was now Vitl sales Apprentice Dan Goodman’s time to shine.

Having only been with ITL for a few months after completing his A-Levels, Dan was the ideal person to give the students his top tips on making the most of any opportunities that are presented to them.

His excitement and drive shone through as he told the students exactly how he secured an apprenticeship with ITL following a work experience trip in November last year organised by the Medway School of Pharmacy who were also involved in the event.

All in all the day was a complete success and Carl, Dan and Sukie came away feeling energised about the direction that Science and Engineering careers is going.

Our only hope now is that at some stage every school in the country (if not the world) is given chances like these. We hope that soon women everywhere continue to see that Science and Engineering isn’t all about dirty workshops and bridges (although if that’s your thing there’s absolutely no harm in that) and it certainly ISN’T JUST FOR BOYS!

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