The United Nations General Assembly have adopted a resolution and declared 11th February the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
So, why is this significant? And why is it important for us all to recognise and promote such endeavours? Well, despite a huge push in recent years to increase equality in scientific fields, there still remains a huge disparity in the up-take by women and girls of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and STEM-related career paths. This day serves as a reminder to us all to encourage, support and promote equality and diversity in these fields. I thought I would take a few minutes to explain how I came to be in a STEM-based career and how Inzpire continue to champion women and girls in science.
I come from a science-oriented family; my mum is a mathematician and my dad and brother are engineers. However, early in my education I very much favoured the arts and did not have a natural affinity towards STEM subjects (or so I thought). However, many years later I find myself loving my STEM-based career. A career which was almost a happy accident but one which has brought with it a fulfilling military career and a new challenge when I recently transitioned to civilian life with Inzpire. I always knew I wanted to do something that contributed positively to society, and following the completion of a Geography degree, I was recommended the Royal Air Force (RAF) by a family member. I attended the careers office on a whim and 12 weeks later was doing my initial officer training. As an Air Operations Officer, in a busy operations room, the ability to solve problems under pressure was central to the job including geometry, maths in public (a dreaded fear of mine), and weaponeering.
Kelly as a detachment commander on the top of a mountain (but we can’t say where!).
Later in my career, I was lucky enough to join the space community. This was eye-opening! I had not realised just how dependent as a society we are on space-based and space-enabled capabilities. I have been able to bring some of this knowledge to my role with Inzpire at the Air Battlespace Training Centre. Here we are at the forefront of synthetic based training and technology enabled learning. As part of the White Force, I have the privilege of helping to provide synthetic training to the RAF. I count myself very lucky to have Inzpire as my employer. They continue to support my space education and they enable my role as a reservist RAF officer. Most importantly, Inzpire are diverse and inclusive with several women in senior roles.
Closer to home, as mum to a 3-year old girl who has just taken part in Space Week at nursery, it was fantastic to be able to describe to her how rockets are launched, for her to be able to point out the planets in our solar system and to tell me she wants to go to the moon (to eat cheese!). Obviously, I will encourage her in whatever path she decides to follow but I am pleased that from a young age she is already being exposed to STEM subjects in all their glory.
Inspiring the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers is such an important task and should not be underestimated. Ensuring we have diverse and equal access is in all fields will impact positively on our future economies and job markets. We are limited at the moment due to COVID, but there is much to be done in our own communities. I look forward to getting back to supporting out-reach events to really help promote science for all, and in particular, for girls and women.
Kelly delivering a talk to school children at her old secondary school in Hull
Finally, what advice would I offer to females of any age out there thinking about taking up STEM subjects or roles?
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