On 20th February, five students, including myself, shortlisted from over six hundred applicants, had the privilege of attending the ‘Women in Science’ day hosted by Oxford University. This day consisted of three talks from female academics, designed to encourage more women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers.
Upon arrival, we received timetables and an introduction to the day before we split into the groups they had already assigned us to: sadly, the three of us who travelled together were all separated! My first talk, in Trinity College, was delivered by Anna Hoerder-Suabedissen on neuroscience- specifically the development of the brain during embryonic growth and development. All in all, I found that talk particularly interesting but difficult to make notes on due to my evident lack of knowledge in neuroscience. After the first talk, we were taken to the dining hall, where the food, as usual, was amazing (and free). After finishing lunch, a few students from Oxford took us on a tour around Trinity College, where we were able to learn more about the student life and details about particular courses available. I personally found it to be a valuable experience to be able to talk with current students, who shared with us what their average day consisted of.
We then walked over to Jesus College where the day continued with a chemistry talk from Lisa Thompson. She discussed an early-stage technology-HydRegen- which is currently under development at Oxford University. I personally found this talk easier to understand as it was heavily based around utilising enzymes in order to make purer and safer drugs. Following this, we headed to our last talk of the day, titled ‘Perceptions of Scientists’ from Ellie Armstrong. This was loosely based around modern-day stereotypes of women in science and ways in which many have worked to overcome these stereotypes in recent years in order to make STEM careers a more welcoming pathway for women to take. As the talk came to an end, all groups were walked back to Trinity College where we had our plenary talk before departing.
Overall, I found the day to be extremely interesting and, although I attended not knowing what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity in talks, as well as being able to talk with first year students. Thankfully, the group I’d been placed into covered fields I was interested in and managed to avoid topics I didn’t have any particular interest in. Although I’d like to believe that the day would’ve been equally as enjoyable if I’d been in the group with all the engineering talks. The event was an excellent opportunity to have a taste of what a STEM career may consist of.
Jayne (Year 12)