As many of the best projects do, it all began with a cup of tea. And also, a timely request from a local Guide group.
Active WiSET member and champion of equality, diversity and inclusion, Dr. Lindsay-Marie Armstrong has contributed many successful initiatives in supporting and encouraging girls and women of all ages in STEMM, particularly the fields of Engineering and Maths (the ‘EM’ in STEMM).
Over the past few years she has worked closely with fellow equality enthusiasts and hot beverage drinkers Dr. Jess Spurrell (WiSET) and colleagues Claire Bolton and Matt Short in the central UKSRO Widening Participation (WP) team, to develop a brand new initiative known as STEM Badge Day. The aim is to bring Engineering and Maths to a whole new generation of underrepresented young people, not just through schools but through youth groups and organisations such as Girl Guiding UK.
Following the format of the University’s successful Dragonfly Day, local Guide units have been invited to attend half-days of engineering workshops and lab visits on the University’s Highfield Campus, led predominantly by our women PGRs and ECRs. The interactive nature of the workshops has successfully engaged Guides and Guiders alike for two years running, culminating in a celebration event at Winchester Science Centre on Thursday 26th April 2018.
At the event (which was free to attend) the Guides and their families and Guide Leaders had exclusive use of the centre for the evening, and over 100 people attended. Dr. Armstrong thanked them for their participation in the initiative and talked about its future development, including branching out from Girl Guiding to other youth groups and organisations. University of Southampton alumnus Dr. Emily Matthews gave a keynote talk in the exciting setting of the Planetarium on her own inspiring journey through STEMM, and skilfully fielded questions about her life and work in Statistics including, with reference to her recent experience working at the MoD, ‘Are you a spy?’!
The Guides were then presented with badges for attending the days by Dr. Matthews – badges which the Guides themselves had designed in competition after their visit to the University! A copy of Libby Jackson’s A Galaxy of Her Own signed by Dr. Armstrong was presented to the Guide with the winning design. WiSET and the Outreach team also provided postcards of inspiring women in STEMM for the Guides and their families to take away.
The positive impact of this excellent example of collaboration between WiSET members, the University’s UKSRO WP team is clear from the feedback below and we are pleased that it has become a regular feature in the University’s and local Guide groups’ calendars!
Feedback from Guide Leaders or University visit days, in 2017 and 2018:
“Can I please thank you and your team for a FANTASTIC day on 10/04/17. All of the girls, without exception, enjoyed their day and I do so hope that this can be repeated.
The Rockets were great fun, the Tribology team had the girls eating out of their hands and the Acoustic Engineering class had the girls making music and yelling and screaming, albeit in the acoustic room!! The girls came away realising that Engineering is fun and girls can do it too.”
“It was fabulous and thanks to you and everyone who put such thought into what they did.
It’s even got me thinking what am I doing in my desk job!”
STEMM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine
PGR = Post-Graduate Researcher
ECR = Early Career Researcher
UKSRO = UK Student Recruitment and Oureach