The second week of Norwich Science Festival saw an all-woman panel take to the stage to discuss their personal journeys into STEMM careers.
Guests Angela Saini, Chelsea Slater, Dr Ozak Esu and Dr Suze Kundu joined Laura Bowater, Professor of Microbiology of UEA, each giving a brief account of their experience in the STEMM world, before taking questions from the audience – which made for interesting and insightful discussions.
The focus of much of the evening was how we can empower girls and women in science, both individually and collectively. During the discussion, one audience member talked about the fact she was stopped from studying computer science at school simply because she was female – a point mirrored by several others in the room. This is the type of discrimination that each of the panelists was passionate about challenging; all were aiming to create an inclusive and equal space for women in science moving forwards.
The rest of discussion was centred around celebrating the achievements of women in science, not least the panelists themselves. We discussed how to achieve an effective work-life balance, overcoming the feeling of needing to ‘prove’ oneself to male co-workers, and how to actively challenge wider discrimination in the workplace.
This event created a safe space for both audience members and panelists to share their experiences, as well as to support and empower one another to confidently step-out into the STEMM world. The contributions from audience members of all ages confirmed the success of this event. The discussion ended with a young person asking panelist Dr Kundu to expand upon her latest research on artificial photosynthesis – clearly an inspired and empowered scientist of the future.