A summary of 2020 and looking forward to a bright 2021 from the WISE Young Professionals Board.
2020 has been a year not many will forget however much we may try! And though it has felt both like 10minutes and a millennium, we’ve been lucky to be able to continue as the Young Professionals Board (WYPB), still working to inspire, engage and advocate throughout 2020.
The changes this year are having unexpected changes, and the implication on Women in STEM is still yet to be realised. With all sorts of potential learning from the year where flexible working and the option of working from home is no longer an added benefit for young professionals but is now an expectation.
The WYPB started the year welcoming five new members with aspirations of more networking, speaking opportunities and collaboration. And though these have not taken the shape as originally planned we have become very adept at virtual social events, virtual speaking and working collaboratively while fully remote.
We were lucky to have an in-person meeting in February, where we shared our stories of how we got involved with advocating for gender parity in STEM and met a few of the employees at the WISE. Since then we have been sad to miss out on seeing each other more: having a wander around Shell’s renewable energy plan in Aberdeen, a tour around the BBCs’ Broadcasting House, and meeting the WISE Board in person. But we’ve made the most of 2020, which has included learning where our mute buttons are!
Some of our projects, though slightly changed, have thrived. In 2020 some of the highlights have been:
- running a Code Breaking Challenge that had more entries than ever and some wonderful feedback and is still available as a resource on our website. A special thanks to Abigail and Josiah who worked hard to create the challenge and gain sponsorship from AWE for some fun prizes.
- sourcing more female role models for the Harper Collins Tara Binns book series which recently won a Teach Primary Award.
- starting our LinkedIn presence, which far surpassed our ‘following’ and ‘engagement’ targets, as well as taking over the WISE Instagram We have really enjoyed how social media has allowed us to continue to keep in touch with our Networks throughout 2020.
- setting up our WYPB Alumni network. The WYPB was started in 2014 and we now have about 30 alumni who we are linking together and drawing from their experience.
In 2020 we also launched our first Reverse Mentoring pilot virtually and we are now collating our findings. The pilot has given us the opportunity to test, make mistakes, and learn together so that we can make informed decisions about the project in the future. Check out Nadia’s Blog on Mentoring and Coaching for insight into different roles in professional support.
I am incredibly proud of the impact, learning, and improvements we’ve made in 2020. I must mention the incredibly valuable and shrewd guidance of Steve Bennett, Founder and Managing Director at TransitionPlus Ltd, throughout the year which has helped us develop as a Board.
Now in 2021, we are extremely excited to welcome four new passionate members to the WYPB! These four stood out from a crowd of incredible candidates this year. We were extremely impressed with their level of enthusiasm, awareness, and commitment to advocate for change. Here is a little insight into each of them:
Maddie Groves – Senior Geotechnical Engineer- CGL
I’m passionate about helping to make careers accessible to anyone who wants to pursue them. Great progress is being made, with one-million women in STEM being an incredible milestone, however, there’s still a lot of work to do, particularly in my area of engineering/construction. I can’t wait to work together with the WYPB and WISE members to be part of how that progress is made.
Krystel Richards – Associate Broadcast IT Engineer -WarnerMedia CNN
Imagine walking in a classroom or office and not seeing another woman on your team – this was the reality when starting my journey in STEM and is a story far too many can relate to. Leaving an all-girls school that always encouraged the study of sciences and math, then finding myself in the minority came as a huge shock. After experiencing the gender imbalance first-hand in both an educational setting and the workplace, I feel strongly that this issue needs to be addressed. The next generation of women in STEM must be given the resources they need to succeed.
Kathryn Malcolm – Graduate Engineer – AstraZeneca
My passion for gender equality in STEM derives from people’s misperception of the value and opportunities a STEM career can provide. From personal experience I have seen first-hand the lack of female representation in STEM careers across different companies and industries. I believe women should be given the knowledge to enable them to access the great job opportunities STEM offers. Ultimately, through my career and place on the WYPB I would like to be a role model for young women and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.
Isobel Vernon-Avery – Graduate Consultant – Arup
I believe that the best of everyone is needed to resolve the complex challenges our world faces, and feel it is urgent that we increase workplace inclusion, diversity and equality. In my observation, the most creative and impactful work happens when diversity is respected and harnessed. Through the WYPB I hope to encourage girls and women, from classroom to boardroom to industry leaders to support each other within STEM.
New WYPB members always bring new ideas and opinions and fresh passion to inspire, engage and advocate, as well as improve, learn and grow together.
I also want to send a special thanks to the WYPB members who will sadly be leaving us this year. Zipporah has been with us since 2015 and been involved in many different projects. Nadia, who has been an integral member for three years and helped drive the Harper Collins project where we sourced female role models for the Tara Binns book series. And finally Tariq, one of the first men on the board this year who helped put together a conference session with forever moving goal posts due to the pandemic. We wish them all good luck for the future and we’re very glad we now have an alumni network so they can easily keep in touch with us all!
I feel very lucky to have been Chair of the WYPB during this time because the challenges have meant I’ve learnt a lot. The Chairship has been mostly through a screen, though I hope it will result in some face to face meetings as I continue as Chair into 2021.
Check out all our profiles https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/young-professionals-board/