Celebrating women in STEM

Showcasing inspirational women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – that’s the aim of Ada Lovelace Day, which took place on Tuesday 10 October. The day is named after Ada Lovelace, a pioneering 19th Century mathematician and the world’s first computer programmer.

With fewer women than men working in STEM fields – despite evidence that girls do well in these subjects at school – this international day of celebration aims to raise the profiles of women working in STEM careers and demonstrate that all women can aspire to work in a STEM industry.

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
Science, technology, engineering and maths are the careers of the future and some of the biggest growth sectors in Hackney. We want to galvanise, empower and inspire young women to go out there and succeed in these areas.
Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

Hackney Council is supporting women to access opportunities in STEM careers, both with the Council and other employers. There are currently more than 80 young people in apprenticeships across the Council, and a range of advanced and higher apprenticeships in ICT are set to be introduced next year. There are also opportunities for 16 to 19 year olds to kick-start their STEM careers with paid work experience through the Hackney 100 programme.

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
We are working closely with schools and businesses to provide as many opportunities as possible for young women to access STEM careers. Our Hackney 100 programme is a key part of this. Many businesses have already signed up to offer Hackney 100 placements. We want to work with even more tech, digital, and creative businesses to create high-quality apprenticeships and work experience opportunities for young women in the borough.
Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

If you would like to be involved in the Hackney 100 programme, either as an employer or a candidate, visit hackney.gov.uk/hackney100.

La Braya Buffong is a digital marketing apprentice at Hackney Council. Her role involves maintaining the Young Hackney website, reformatting and distributing content across all communication channels and creating websites for specific programmes and compiling e-newsletters. She said: “I’m the only person who does this apprenticeship at Hackney and I’m the only female on my course. I’ve learnt a lot about how to manoeuvre the digital world and I’m excited to see where I can go with it.”

Amera Hussain took part in the Hackney 100 programme in 2015, working in the finance department at Hackney Council. Her role involved writing narratives for data and budget reports as well as forecasting and using mathematics. The experience helped her to develop a vast knowledge of the financial sector. She said: “Working with the finance department at Hackney Council was by far the most useful and rewarding work experience I’ve completed to date. Not only did this experience enhance my skills such as written and verbal communication, team work, flexibility and so forth, but it broadened my visions on career prospects.”

Luke Lucas is a Spacecraft Operations Engineer at the European Space Agency and was one of the volunteers at Hackney’s Inspiring Young Women event in March. She is currently working with a spacecraft which is orbiting Mars and is responsible for thermal sub-system and mission planning. Luke said: “I have worked with many different spacecraft and have been responsible for controlling weather satellites, astronomy spacecraft and interplanetary spacecraft. I now fly a spacecraft around Mars – it’s ace. There are not currently many women in this industry, so there is definitely room for more.”

Denise Hill is a Contracts Manager at Hackney Council where she runs a team of 12 managing electrical services on Hackney’s housing estates. She always wanted to become an engineer, despite being laughed at in school for this career choice. She started as an apprentice and was the first female electrical apprentice to receive the ‘student of the year’ award from the Mayor of Hackney in 1989 and more recently, was shortlisted for a Women in Construction award. Denise said: “I think sometimes the perception of the construction industry can be wrong. Young ladies often think it’s all about being a labourer and working on site, but this is wrong. Engineering covers a wide range of different disciplines. I would hope that someone like me would inspire younger women to enter the construction industry, because we are too few as we are, too few. If you love science, if you love maths, this is right up your street.”

Grace Meyer is a Senior Data Scientist Consultant who helps businesses improve performance using data, maths and coding. After studying a degree in engineering, Grace had a number of different roles working with optimisation software and aviation analytics. She is now an analytics consultant and a mentor in the RLadies community to support other women into data science coding, as well as being a volunteer at Hackney’s Inspiring Young Women event in March. She said: “Women are a minority in the data science industry, however my current team has 40% women which is great. Though, it is normal for me to be the only woman, and usually the youngest, in high level meetings.”

Pupils at Our Lady’s Convent High School have been taking part in STEM activities throughout the year including the #ICanEngineer competition held at the Institute of Civil Engineering.