#1ofTheMillion what?” I’m sure the majority of you are asking…
In the UK we now have a million women working in science, technology, engineering, maths roles and professions (or STEM). That’s still less than a quarter of the overall UK number (and proportionally even fewer women work in engineering), but huge strides have been made in the last decade.
I’m proud that Sellafield Ltd supports and promotes Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and is getting involved in today’s #1ofTheMillion day. It’s one of numerous inclusivity and diversity initiatives we promote – another sign that we as an organisation are also making strides and taking more action than perhaps previously.
You only have to look at the news to see that we live in an unequal world. This video makes a powerful statement on equality of opportunity.
Of course, we should celebrate the progress we have made in gender equality and more generally inclusivity at work so that we can encourage even more. But there is little point in having that equality of opportunity if people don’t know it is there or what it means for them.
With regard to STEM careers, it is nothing new to talk about awareness of the career choices and the importance of role models to inspire and aspire to. But I still don’t think we’ve cracked it.
Too many young people at school just can’t see the STEM careers and opportunities that are open to them. For me, it doesn’t matter whether they actually choose to go down that path – but I do want them to know they have a choice.
We still have work to do in ‘normalising’ STEM careers and landing the message that they are available to many more people (particularly women) than currently thought.
On a personal level, careers education was barely existent when I was at school and I frankly had no idea what was available. I certainly never thought I could describe myself as a “nuclear physicist” - and it’s still the best job title I’ve ever had ?.
It was a convoluted route to get there - via a PhD in micro- and nano-mechanics, teaching English in Eastern Europe and engineering design and consultancy. I only took science options because they seemed to leave more career doors open – ie buy myself some time before deciding what I wanted to do.
When I opted to study physics at university it was more through knowing what I didn’t want to do (I never thought I’d have the bedside manner for medicine!) than what I did.
After many years as a STEM ambassador, I’ve focused my efforts in recent years on joining up and leveraging the efforts of different individuals and organisations, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. So much energy around the topic, but are we reaching everybody?
#1ofTheMillion but remember there’s only #1ofyou – keep your mind open, keep learning and helping others develop and make the most of your and every other individual’s unique talents.