One evening over a glass of wine, a very lovely lady called Anna Zecharia came out with a very wonderful idea. “ScienceGrrl should have local gatherings. Chapters.” We didn’t need to discuss it, we recognised it for the stroke of genius it was. It went straight into the strategy.
What I didn’t foresee is quite how popular the idea of ScienceGrrl chapters would be. Check out the current list of Chapters here.
I’m so encouraged by this enthusiasm for connecting with others who are keen to celebrate, support and promote women in science, technology, engineering and maths – and have fun in the process. Chapters are beginning to meet regularly, gathering women – and men! – who share our aims and discovering what is already going on in their area in terms of science outreach and what ScienceGrrl can add.
Chapter members are talking to colleagues, teachers, museums, public engagement officers at Universities, the local STEM ambassadors network, and anyone else who’ll talk to them! It’s always been in our nature to collaborate, because it’s a friendly thing to do and it saves work, so on a local level as well as nationally we are looking to strengthen, resource and augment what is already happening rather than reinventing the wheel.
As time goes on, we will look for the gaps, particularly in terms of providing role models and mentors, see what we can do to fill them, discover the best ways of doing this, and share what we have learned to help others who want to do the same. I foresee a significant proportion of our income from membership fees being spent in resourcing our members to make a difference where they are.
In Birmingham, we’re developing our programme in collaboration with Shabana Mahmood MP, Shadow Minister for Universities & Science, whose constituency is in Birmingham. Chi Onwurah MP has also expressed interest in collaborating with the Newcastle chapter.
I’ll be keeping in touch with all the chapters to see how things are progressing and offer advice and support. We’re also planning a national conference sometime in 2014 or 2015 to bring chapter members and other organisations in the same field together to exchange ideas and help co-ordinate our activities.
If you become a ScienceGrrl member (just £5 a year!) we will pass your details on to the local chapter co-ordinator. Or just turn up to a local chapter meeting and see what’s happening!