Science Grrl and the Community
Last year I noted that as the new head of physics at Dundee I should do more to promote women in STEM fields. This came after a bit of homework that my daughter received highlighted the stereotypes that schoolkids get all too readily when thinking and discussing scientific issues. As it turns out part of my role is to try and help guide the Physics Division towards accreditation in programmes such as Athena Swan and the Institute of Physics’ Project Juno. These have certainly got me thinking much more about the diversity issues that both Higher Education organisations and the wider community face.
The first thing I am pleased to be able to announce that we are doing is a small bit of community engagement. I am very much of the opinion that Universities have an important role to play in their local communities, and that we can in our own way help to transform the environment around us by opening up new opportunities, introducing new ideas and providing the best education we can to our local young people. I wanted to try and let schools know that there is an issue with the way in which girls at school interact with and perceive science, and that this ultimately impacts on the number of girls who end up on STEM courses and in STEM jobs, and that this, in my opinion is a huge waste of talent. I think this dovetails quite nicely with the goals of the Science Grrl group and the idea that “Science is for everyone”. To try and highlight this idea we have sent out a Science Grrl calendar to all the schools in Dundee. This is just a small action, but I hope, from a personal point of view, that it is just the start of wider engagement that we can make with these issues, and just the start of a processes of making more of an impact in and around Dundee.
if you happen to be a Dundee based teacher, I’d be interested in hearing your views on these ideas, and if we can help in anyway, just get in touch.
Many thanks also to Heather, Louise and everyone else at Science Grrl for sorting out all the calendars!