What is a Stemette?
“Stemette (n): a female who has the capacity to go into one or more of the STEM fields” This was an eye-catching definition found on the STEMettes website.
Many people around the world have tried to find reasons why women don’t go into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as find ways to combat this. Stemettes is a group of volunteers from the STEM industry who are doing what they can to combat the lack of women in STEM. They are an award-winning social enterprise who are inspiring the next generation of women into pursuing the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In their 3 years of operations, 7,000 girls from the UK, Ireland, and other countries in Europe have already been inspired and became involved in STEMettes.
According to their website, STEMette’s mission is “To inspire the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields by showing them the amazing women already in STEM via a series of panel events, hackathons, exhibitions, and mentoring schemes.”
Anne-Marie Imafidon is the Head STEMette and cofounder of STEMettes. She has always been interested in business, maths and technology since she was a child. Some of her many achievements include passing two GCSEs (Mathematics & ICT) at the age of ten; holding the current world record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing, which she got at the age of 11; a Guardian ‘Top 10 women in tech you need to know’; and being one of the youngest to be awarded a Masters’ degree in Mathematics and Computer Science by the University of Oxford, aged 20.
She is also the co-founder of Outbox Incubator: The world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls.
Importance of Teaching Women STEM
“It’s not teaching, it’s inspiring,” Anne-Marie told GineersNow.
“In the UK, women and girls are taught alongside boys and men in schools. They’re all taught sciences and math and now they’re taught coding. And the importance of inspiring girls and imparting knowledge to make that choice is to actually increase the digital and technical worlds,” she added.
According to Anne-Marie, if we’re going to be solving any problems, we need to see the bigger picture from different perspectives to be able to solve it. So we can’t rely on only one gender to solve these problems. We also can’t assume that all the knowledge and the skills for problem solving reside in men.
“Fully, it comes into showing that even in the UK, girls outperform boys when it comes to knowledge and understanding science and math. So why would you not encourage, inspire or empower them [women] to explore that or discover new things or create new products or solve extra problems,” The head STEMette explained.
“So it’s not just for the women, it’s for everyone, it’s in everyone’s interest that we empower women for this. We all have problems; we have problems with water, we have problems with pollution, we all have these social problems, all kinds of problems. And so we need the best brains and as many as we can to solve those problems.”
Advice for All Young Girls
As a final piece of advice for all the young women who want to pursue the world of science, technology, engineering and math, here’s what Anne-Marie has to say:
“Seek forgiveness, not permission. It’s really easy to say you might need permission to do this, or ask someone if it’s okay before you do stuff. A lot of this is exploration, so if you ask people—they say no. So it’s better for you to go out and explore and then say you’re sorry if it doesn’t work, because chances are it’s going to work if it’s something new that you’re discovering,”
“It has done really well for me and the only thing I say is “you do make mistakes”, which is what a lot of teenage girls are worried about, if they’re going to mess things up or do something wrong or end up with failure. You’re going to fail, but failure is not the person—it’s what happened. A lot of great things have been made from a mistake. Your failure is definitely a good thing, so learn to learn from that and what you did to get that. So that’s my few main pieces of advice.”