Norwich High leads inaugural Inspiring Females STEM event

More than 250 girls from schools and Sixth Forms across Norfolk and beyond enjoyed a unique insight into science, technology and engineering (STEM) careers at a new event organised by Norwich High School.

Inspiring Females: STEM took place in the John Innes Centre at Norwich Research Park on Wednesday 2nd May. In attendance were girls from Sheringham, Wymondham, Long Stratton, Reepham, City of Norwich School, Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form and Ormiston Victory Academy, as well as fellow GDST schools, Northampton High School and Sydenham High School.

The event was designed to engage girls aged 15-17 in STEM subjects, showcasing the breadth of career opportunities available through a mixture of Q&A panel sessions, interactive workshops, TED-style talks and speed mentoring opportunities.

Students had the opportunity to meet 19 inspiring women all currently working in STEM industries, and enjoyed an opportunity to network with their mentors, and explore key issues in science, art and diversity.

Guests included Professor Dame Caroline Dean, Project Leader in Cell and Developmental Biology from the John Innes Centre, Dr Jess Wade, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Physics from Imperial College London, Dr Mandy Hartley, author and founder of The Little Story Telling Company, and Miranda Lowe, Principal Curator from the Natural History Museum.

Many other high profile organisations were represented including Aviva, Norwich Research Park, the UEA, NUA, Cambridge University, the Wellcome Collection and Statoil.

One Year 10 student said of the event, “Having the chance to take part in a STEM event was not only empowering and inspirational – it was important. It was such an amazing atmosphere and I felt at home surrounded by a group of like-minded females.”

Siobhan Eke of the Inspiring Females programme said, “It’s terrific that more girls are studying STEM subjects at school and in higher education but the numbers of women working in STEM sectors is still low. We are so proud to have brought together a vibrant group of female STEM champions to share their unique insider knowledge and their words of wisdom, advice and insight with students.”

The day explored how creative attributes are prized in STEM. Amongst many inspiring quotes from the day, Sophie Prosolek, a speaker and PhD Student at the Quadram Institute, gave girls this fantastic advice: “Don’t put yourself in a box – you’ll end up limiting yourself to the size of that box.”

Kirsty von Malaisé, Headmistress of Norwich High School said “It was gratifying to see so many girls from across Norfolk embracing this opportunity and we are delighted that there have been some real lightbulb moments! Thank you to all of the guests who volunteered their time to connect, empower and educate all of the young women who attended.”

IF STEM was shaped by a group of Norwich High students aged 13 to 18, who helped to plan, develop and deliver the event. The next event which the team is currently shaping is the Inspiring Females Summit which takes place on Monday 2nd July.