BioCity, the life science incubator and business collective, opened its doors to one hundred young women from local schools on Tuesday 08 October 2019, to celebrate the tenth annual Ada Lovelace Day.
The event, co-created and supported by BioCity, Ignite!, Nottingham Trent University and STEM Hub invited young women from across the region to take part in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) based activities, all led by women in industry.
BioCity-based HGF, Sygnature Discovery, Azotic Technologies and XenoGesis, alongside event partners, Rolls Royce, The British Army, Twycross Zoo and Boots, ran interactive experiences allowing the students to gain insights into the world of STEM, including:
“The Drug Discovery Game” by BioCity, Sygnature Discovery and XenoGesis let students experience for themselves the process of creating new drugs and the business that goes on behind them.
“Future Food” by Azotic Technologies. By way of extracting DNA from a banana, students looked at food scarcity and the use of sustainable fertilisers.
Founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson in response to a lack of female visibility within STEM, Ada Lovelace Day is now recognised internationally. Events are held on the second Tuesday in October every year, specifically designed to increase the visibility of women in STEM and create new role models for those considering career options.
Gemma Cann, BioCity marketing director, said: “Every day, we at BioCity work with women who are taking on global health and environmental challenges. They are the real-life role models who prove that careers in STEM are attainable for women. The young women we have met today could be the very people who are solving the problems we don’t even know we have yet. Connecting the two, the pioneers of today with those of tomorrow is crucial.”
Megan Shore, Ignite! communications executive said: “This has been a great opportunity to showcase the wide variety of careers in STEM beyond the obvious and expected. We’ve been able to challenge young pupils’ perspectives and open their eyes up to new paths”.
Professor Mark Biggs, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) said: “Engaging with students is so important for the future of STEM. Events like Ada Lovelace Day and the work that Ignite! and the STEM Hub do, has a significant impact on how young women think and feel about STEM, and ultimately can inspire them to make a real difference through a career in STEM.”
After a morning of hands-on experience in STEM, the students from across the region were brought together and set a challenge, “create a marketing campaign to encourage and inspire other female students within your school.”
The young women designed cross-channel campaigns and presented their ideas to the entire group. Ideas included the introduction of women’s rights-focused assemblies, practical activities for primary schools, drop-in sessions with women in industry, the use of social media influencers, hashtags and entire weeks, not days dedicated to STEM in schools.
Common across every campaign was a desire to communicate the attainability of STEM, inspired by the women they met. As one student eloquently put: “It’s ok to be interested in what you are interested in, not what you think you should be.”