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As someone who has been an avid advocate of Maths and STEM subjects my entire life, I passionately believe that STEM is for all, regardless of gender, race, age, and ability.
When I founded Stemettes, it was particularly about enabling young girls and non-binary young people to access the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths. I wanted to show young people that this is an arena for them, just as much as anyone else.
Interestingly, I also started to find older people coming to me, who wanted help to get engaged in STEM subjects. It soon became clear that as an adult you have a different set of expectations and perspectives on how to use your knowledge of STEM to take control of parts of your life.
This helped plant the seed for my upcoming book, She’s in CTRL. It is all about what could happen in the future if women were able to take control of technology.
As women, we should be in the tech boardrooms making decisions. But sadly, the myth of non-technical women and the idea that women don’t do Maths, is still far too prevalent across all age groups.
She’s in CTRL aims to help bring about change, to turn stereotypes on their head, and envision a future where women are tech leaders not as a tokenistic gesture, but as an integral part of the tech leadership landscape.
Share Herstory, don’t just tell History
In my mind it is absolutely critical that young girls, women, and people who are non-binary, have strong STEM role models.
This includes learning about the previously unknown achievements women and non-binary people have contributed to STEM and sharing this knowledge with the young people in our classrooms. It’s about the forgotten female mathematicians, the female scientists, and the non-binary technology leaders.
If society knew about these incredible people, both teachers and parents/carers could talk about them with their children and young people in schools and wider settings. It is about all of us expanding our knowledge and understanding of Herstory.
Take Maths off the page and into reality
It is key that we try to talk about Maths and make it relevant to our everyday activities. It is about tying Maths to the norm, so that all our learners can see the importance of Maths to our everyday activities and their futures.
Maths is not just about writing things down and doing the arithmetic. We have to ensure that we relate Maths to an understanding of the world, so learners are able to conceptualise and solve our everyday problems. It is about taking Maths off the page and into reality.
We of course have the curriculum, and it is important. But Maths can be found everywhere – when we look at food technology or look at the body in biology, for example. We need to showcase how key Maths is to the world around us, from the surgeon who is going to perform an operation to the Pharmacist measuring out medicine.Ultimately, to keep young people’s interest in STEM, an open dialogue is key, where teachers and pupils are open to learning from each other. It is a two-way process where we discover what matters to each other and learn together.
Diversity and inclusion are key for future change
I have always been interested in Maths and have previously not noticed when I was one of the only women in the room. I ended up working in the technology industry and in 2012 went to a US conference where there were 3,500 technical women present and this was a huge turning point for me.
I quickly realised I had never been in an all-female STEM environment and that women in the industry were hugely underrepresented. My eyes were opened and because of this, in 2013 and as a New Year’s resolution to myself, Stemettes was born.
I wanted to improve access to opportunities, and to show that there is so much you can do with Maths. Stemettes is about engaging and connecting with the next generation of women and non-binary young people.
I wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey and you don’t have to have all the top grades. We invite people of all abilities to come and just explore STEM; there are no assessments, and you can attend free online events and access regular e-newsletters for teachers and parents.
It is my mission to transform the technology landscape and to show young people and non-binary young people that STEM subjects are for them. STEM subjects are 100% relevant to all, and a career in Maths, Science, Technology or Engineering is not a ‘masculine’ subject or out of reach but could instead transform their lives.
Listen to Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon on the last episode of Pearson’s The Right Angle podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.