Trinity’s women in STEMM event to become annual

Trinity’s residential course for young women considering studying science, technology, engineering, maths or medicine (STEMM) at leading universities is oversubscribed and the College has pledged to make the event annual.

On 29 August, 40 women from around the UK will arrive at Trinity for a series of taster lectures at Trinity and the Cavendish Laboratory, tours of the Sainsbury Laboratory and Cambridge Observatory, as well as a women in science film night.

The free three-day course, designed and led by Trinity Fellow, Professor Valerie Gibson, will provide an overview of studying STEMM at university, an insight into Cambridge and College life, and the range of career options available.

Professor Gibson is Head of the High Energy Physics Research Group at the Cavendish Laboratory and UK Spokesperson for the LHCb experiment at CERN. She said:

Courtesy of What I See Project,
Courtesy of What I See Project,

Cambridge is a fantastic place to study the STEMM subjects, especially with the range of subjects available in Natural Science and Engineering. However, we need to do more to attract the brightest women who, given the opportunity, could ultimately have the most rewarding career in science.

In her role as the School of Physical Sciences Equality & Diversity Champion at Cambridge, Professor Gibson spearheaded the Cavendish Laboratory’s Athena Swan Gold Award in 2014. The Cavendish was the first – and remains the only – university physics department in the UK to achieve this recognition of its development of employment practices that support and further the careers of women.

Joining Professor Gibson on Trinity’s STEMM residential this month will be Professor Judith Driscoll, Dr Yvette Perrott, Professor Marian Holness and Dr Joan Lasenby, all Fellows of the College.

Trinity Admissions Tutor Professor Adrian Poole warmly welcomed the interest in the event and acknowledged that more needed to be done to redress the balance between men and women studying STEMM subjects. He said:

This is Trinity’s first event aimed at women interested in STEMM subjects. Given its popularity and the need to encourage and enable more women to pursue science at university and in their careers, the College will make this an annual event.

Professor Gibson believes outreach activities need to engage young students – in the first few years of secondary school – and not only young women who have already chosen to pursue science. That’s why Trinity’s 2017 plans include a STEMM event for 11-to-13 year-old girls. Professor Gibson said:

We have to expose girls early (years 7-8) to the excitement of science and the career possibilities. We could also provide potential students with help and material that will prepare them for the transition between school and university, for example the Isaac Physics project.

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