On Monday 20th October 2014, Swansea ScienceGrrl kicked off our 2014-2015 activities with a lunch in the SURF Room in Fulton House, Swansea University. As with the event last year, the meeting was superbly well-attended by students, staff and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) representatives, all keen to learn a bit more about our plans for the coming year.
The meeting was opened by Computer Science Lecturer Monika Seisenberger. Monika gave an introduction to the event, briefly discussing what we have already been up to and also the topics we wanted to get through in the meeting. Pro-Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, then welcomed everyone to the lunch with an account of the inspiring work of Ada Lovelace, often referred to as the “first computer programmer,” and whose achievements we celebrate on October 14th.
Next came a whistle-stop report of all the work that has been done over the past year to promote, encourage and support women in STEMM subjects. Charlie James gave an account of the effort that STEMM Colleges at Swansea University have put into tackling the under-representation and loss of women in these subject areas at Higher Education level. It was encouraging to learn about the rising number of Athena SWAN awards obtained and applied for since September last year; this just shows how much progress can be made over only a short period of time!
Katie Welsby, Rich Johnston and Geertje Van Keulen then gave us a taster of the activities that ScienceGrrl members can expect to be involved in, talking about Science Week at Loughour Primary School, Super Science Saturday at Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum and SoapBox Science respectively. Photos of engaging games and presentations, crazy demonstrations and most importantly, big smiles featured heavily in this part of the presentation! We talked about just how important it is to reach schoolchildren, teachers and parents and show them that science is for everyone, and is about more than sitting at a computer or in a lab!
After another tasty lunch provided by Swansea University, we got down to the real business of the meeting. Attendees were asked to split into groups to discuss issues including: publicity, school & public outreach, College of Science Discussion Forum (facilitated by AthenaSWAN, Science Student Experience and links with Industry. There was great enthusiasm from attendees, with plenty offering their time to get involved!
Some key outcomes of the discussion were:
- more active publicity, particularly blogging;
- signing up volunteers to become STEM ambassadors and co-ordinate STEM/ScienceGrrl events;
- attending discussion forum events, organised by Swansea University College of Science (beginning with “Gender Equality Discussion – why does it matter, where are we, what can we do?” on January 14th 2015)
- establishing work experience links within industry to encourage students to pursue a career in Science.
All in all, the event was once again enjoyable and inspiring! Thanks to everyone involved, and watch this space……!
Cate Gascoigne, ScienceGrrl’s Swansea chapter co-ordinator.