Our first Interconnect Student Award goes to Lauren Campbell from Heriot-Watt University, a computing student who has gone above and beyond to support and promote her women peers.
Abbie Robb of Ayrshire College and Stefanie Wilson of Abertay University were also shortlisted for the award.
The award was presented at our Interconnect Student Conference on 18th April 2016, hosted by City of Glasgow College. The conference brought women STEM students from colleges and universities across Scotland together to explore career possibilities and celebrate their passion for STEM. The morning included speakers, activities and networking opportunities for women students and STEM employers.
We interviewed Lauren to find out more about her work and her tips for inspiring women:
What inspired you to pursue a STEM career?
I have been interested in computers since I was a child, so pursuing a career in STEM was more of a natural choice than something I was inspired to do. However, during high school I doubted whether I was good enough and studied mostly unrelated subjects. Knowing that these weren’t what I wanted to do, in my final year I decided to study Computing for a year at college to get into university, and did well. I realised that I was just too afraid of failure to try, and my own motivation to try back then is my main source of inspiration now.
Tell us a bit about how you support women in STEM
I think the best way to support women in STEM is though listening, as well as events and things like the Interconnect network. By talking to other women, we can highlight issues and take action to solve them. When someone asks me for help or advice, I do my best to offer help and support.
How do you fit these activities around your studies?
Events and other similar activities have a positive impact, but I think everyday things that don’t necessarily require preparation and planning are valuable as well, even just talking to other women about coursework in classes. I think that a large part of supporting women in STEM is to reduce the feeling of being out of place, and that just being regular classmates makes a difference in itself. In this way, everyone can support women in STEM every day even outside specific activities.
What is the biggest reward of doing this work?
It’s good to speak to other women in STEM, discussing issues and any concerns we share. While helping with the insight day at my university, it was encouraging to see how enthusiastic the schoolgirls were about the activities going on and the possibility of studying a STEM degree at university. It felt rewarding seeing them enjoy the day and feeling encouraged to pursue a career in computer science.
What are your top three tips to others looking to inspire women?
- Highlighting notable women in STEM and celebrating their achievements is a positive thing. They can be role models for young women and a source of inspiration.
- Encourage women to pursue the career they’d like to do – don’t discourage people before they try.
- Listen to the concerns of women in STEM, and help to address these and support them through problems they face.
If you could meet any woman scientist, alive or dead, who would you pick and why?
Grace Hopper, because of her determination to her career, passion for computing and how encouraging she was towards young people that wanted to learn more about computers and how they work. It’d be interesting to talk to her about her life and the work she did.
We’d like to thank City of Glasgow College for hosting the conference, and the students, speakers and judges for making this event a success.