13 March 2019

CaSE Assistant Director Daniel Rathbone on his recent visit to the American Embassy for an International Women's Day event.

On Thursday 7th March I was lucky enough to attend a panel event on Women in STEM at the US Embassy to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019. Our Executive Director, Dr Sarah Main, was originally invited but because she was away in Scotland for our roundtable event with the RSE I had the pleasure of attending instead. This meant I was one of only a handful of men in an audience of about 100 women!

It occurred to me that that is often what its like for women in STEM when they go to events and conferences, when many of the people there are men. It was an extremely interesting event, with a great discussion about how to increase diversity in STEM careers and how to show young women that STEM is for everyone. It was equal parts inspiring and depressing. I was struck in particular how most of the panel, and likely much of the audience, came from backgrounds with high science capital and, as a society, we face a real challenge to encourage those with low science capital, often from deprived backgrounds, to see STEM careers as an option and an opportunity for them.

I will certainly be taking away many of the good ideas suggested and feed them in to CaSE’s ongoing work on diversity in STEM. I will also take it as a personal challenge to do what I can to encourage girls, women and all underrepresented groups to get involved and discover the excitement that a career in STEM can provide.

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