University STEM event welcomes inspirational women to talk to local girls about careers in Science and Engineering

Date 16.11.2015

The University of Northampton’s School of Science and Technology celebrated International Women’s Day early on 5 March by hosting an event for 14-year-old girls from local schools entitled Girls Going Global!

Held at Newton Grand Hall on Avenue Campus, the event aimed to raise the awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers and inspire girls to aim higher. Nearly 100 girls from eight different local schools attended the event, and heard from inspirational speakers, including motorcycle racer Maria Costello MBE and Terry Marsh, the former director of WISE.

The morning included an interactive show hosted by TV presenter Fran Scott, who has worked on programmes including Absolute Genius with Dick&Dom , Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab and Bang Goes the Theory. Fran’s Science Misadventures show demonstrated concepts including friction, where pupils took part in a tug-o-war with two Yellow Pages, hydrogen bubbles which were set on fire to demonstrate combustion, and non-Newtonian fluids which change from liquids to solids and back again.

Trisha Goodchild, STEM Diversity Co-Ordinator at the University of Northampton commented: “The event aimed to raise the awareness of STEM, and change the perceptions of these girls that careers in engineering aren’t all about greasy overalls.”

Motorcycle racer Maria Costello has made history with her fast and skilful racing, and she regularly represents the UK globally at the sport. Maria is supportive of STEM and of changing the perception of Engineering, particularly with women, and her talk demonstrated to the girls that they can achieve their dreams. She encouraged the girls to not be afraid of taking risks and stepping outside of their comfort zones, as passion for their career will help them to overcome their fears.

Terry Marsh, former Director of WISE and Head of School Programmes at the BBC opened the morning, with a presentation which highlighted how few girls go into Science and Engineering careers – within the UK 4,000 girls applied to University to study engineering compared to over 28,000 boys. Terry explained that girls can achieve in science, and that 82 percent of girls who achieved an A or A* at GCSE still walked away from the subject when making their career choices. She encouraged the audience to always ask questions, and contact her if they have any in future.

​​​The workshops held in the afternoon were based around global careers and covered subjects as diverse as global waste and the environment (led by Professor Margaret Bates), flying with the RAF, immersive technology, leather and the safety of chilled foods.