School students look at STEAM careers for women
More than 1,100 budding female scientists, tech experts and engineers of the future gathered online for a packed day geared toward opening their eyes to possible career options.
With presentations from sector experts, the aim of the recent Women into STEAM event was to encourage school students (11-16 year olds) from across the region to consider careers in areas as diverse as fire and rescue, construction and digital technology where female professionals are underrepresented.
Vice Chancellor Prof Nick Petford – who is also a volcanologist – led a session about ‘Working with volcanoes’ with UON Geography student Leanne Pearce.
Nick, who is also a UON STEM Ambassador, said: “Trying to compress a vast area such as volcanology into less than half an hour was no easy task, but this was a great opportunity to explain the field to people who might not know the array of career options available to volcanologists.
“Volcanoes play an important part in many people’s lives, so we can go into anything from disaster management, economics, sociology or psychology.
“A veritable lava flow of questions erupted from the schools who took part, so I hope to have passed on the same spark of interest that drew me to the world of volcanoes.”
Paul Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Podiatry, was one of the UON experts who took part. For ‘It’s all about feet!’ he spoke about his own personal discovery of a profession he loves.
Paul said: “I was always good at science at school and knew then that I wanted to use that practically to help people. I was interested in going in to a medical field but I hadn’t even heard of podiatry until it was recommended to me by a career adviser. I looked in to it and knew it was the thing for me.
“Podiatry is such a rewarding career with great employability and opportunities, but not many people think of it. I was so lucky to be told about the profession and always make time to do the same for others.”
Ektaa Vadgama, second year Podiatry student, added: “I believe we inherently want to help those younger than us, so I think it’s incredibly important to help girls and young women to find their feet – pun intended! It’s a very satisfying profession, you get really hands on with your patient care.
“I enjoyed taking part in this event because podiatry is not just about looking at people’s toe nails as there are so many other fields or careers open to us. From sports medicine, rehabilitation therapies and caring for people who have diabetes, the podiatric world is your oyster!”
*The event was delivered by Aspire Higher, a collaboration between the universities of Northampton, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, under the umbrella of the initiative Uni Connect.
Aspire Higher is one of 29 partnerships of universities, colleges and other local partners that offer activities, advice and information on the benefits and realities of going to university or college.