Members Spotlight: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In honour of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we would like to place a spotlight on female members of Paddington Works that work in STEM-related industries, which make up the majority of the companies that call Paddington Works home.

We asked our female members a range of questions in order to paint a picture of what it’s like to be a woman in a STEM-related industry.

We have put together a composite of some of the questions answered by women in UBDS who have been members of Paddington Works since 2020.

 

Why did you choose to work in STEM?

“Coming from a family of engineers, I always wanted to go into a career in STEM. I love finding out how the world works and so after graduating with a degree in Physics and Mathematics I went into the world of engineering. Although my career has taken a winding path to IT consultancy, the experiences and doors it opens to exciting and impactful work are unbeatable.”

– Ali Gilbert

“The advancement of technology is inevitable, and that’s what I found most interesting in STEM. As engineering develops and IT progresses, there will be an undeniable need to continue learning in order to keep up with the fast pace of change. I have always wanted to work in a position where I could continue my love of learning through reading, by challenging the existing technological landscape and seeking out new opportunities. I chose the field of technology because of how pervasive it is as it interlinks with many of my interests, including gender equality, healthcare, education, and social justice. I wanted to work in an industry that not only made an impact on people and partners but also one that I would gain a sense of satisfaction through engaging in challenges and developing creative solutions.”

– Nour Louhichi

“The fact of the matter is that I’m one of the fortunate ones – I didn’t choose to work in STEM; technology is a subject that came to me out of the blue. I didn’t study in the area, and I didn’t point my career path in this direction, but I was fortunate enough to meet people who have shown me how accessible it can be and supported me in learning. I work in the People team now, but I use my skills from working as a technical BA in that role, and it will be a skill I never lose and aim to keep working on in the background for the rest of my career”

– Fe Symonds

“I never had a specific career in mind when I got into STEM; I just enjoyed seeing how the world worked and had a curiosity for figuring things out. No one else from my family has worked in STEM, so I was carving my own path to a certain extent but always felt fully supported. I have followed my curiosity on a slightly zigzag path from a Chemistry PhD to IT consultancy so far, and I’m excited about where my career path will take me in the future”

 Ellen Pope

“If you would have asked me two years ago where I see myself in the next few years, it would not have been in IT. I studied Psychology and Business Management as my undergraduate degree with the intention of going into Human Resources. I started at UBDS as an Operations Analyst working on internal processes and with plans to progress my career in that field, however, that did not last very long. After two months at the company, I moved to a client-facing role as a business analyst. I wouldn’t say that I chose to work in STEM – it sort of fell into place, but now I can’t picture myself anywhere else. I enjoy the work that I do and the people I work with. I love the potential that the tech world allows, and the approach of fixing, improving, and pulling out every possibility a system has.”

– Katja Fischer

“My background stemmed from having a degree in Business Management where I gained a love and passion for strategy and innovation which helped me land my first role as a Business Analyst which gave me exposure to the field of Consulting. From this, I developed a deeper love for building rapport, networking and having relationships with  clients, which forms a key component of what I do on a day-to-day basis.”

– Esther Sule

 

What has been the highlight of your career while working in STEM?

“There are too many to name but include working in a Ministry of Defence forensics laboratory to reverse engineer improvised explosive devices coming back from war zones, designing electronic counter-measures for aircraft, getting to go on a Vanguard class submarine wet-docked in a Scottish loch, working on infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic Games, coaching data analysts from a joint UK/USA collaboration looking at how we can prevent terrorist attacks, and solving problems for a host of really interesting organisations.”

– Ali Gilbert

 

How did you choose your field of study?

“I studied law and politics at university and never thought about working in STEM or how technology could be used in an environmentally or socially conscious way. It was only until the pandemic that I had time to pick up a new skill and decided to learn how to code. I joined a female-only coding bootcamp, where I learned full stack development, and gained a deeper understanding of the different software utilised by developers and how technology could be utilised to further my interests. By immersing myself in that environment and being surrounded by women, all working in different areas of STEM, I discovered a range of opportunities that were available to me. This fundamentally encouraged me to pursue a career in STEM with the support and mentorship of women who I had met throughout my journey.”

 Nour Louhichi

 

Are there any STEM-related topics that you think should have more attention? If so, why?

“The possibilities with data and the necessity for innovation – although both sound daunting and potentially being ‘buzzwords’. Data in simple terms accelerates innovation and innovation is fully optimised through data. As a consequence, it is important to know the value, benefits and challenges involved in data but also how you can maximise data’s possibilities and innovate to fit your intended solutions.

– Esther Sule

 

In your opinion, which changes, if any, are needed to make STEM more attractive to women and girls?

“By providing exposure to women/girls through talks, magazines, summer camps and introducing them to STEM at an early age, I hope more women will become more confident to take ownership of these fields.
Disrupting traditional stereotypes of masculine and feminine roles and increasing exposure to opportunities, resources and role models in STEM will play a significant part in encouraging women to pursue career aspirations in STEM. This can be encouraged by exposing girls to role models in STEM and highlighting different women’s experiences, journeys into their STEM careers, and the impact women have made across multiple industries such as space, robotics, physics and medicine.”

– Nour Louhichi

“In my opinion, changes need to be made to make STEM appear less aspirational and more achievable. Working in STEM does not need you to be an instant expert, with a PhD in an incredibly difficult field of study, working in STEM just needs women and girls to get started. We are on our way to a more equal field, and as more girls grow into encouraging role models in the industry, I think the future is bright”

– Fe Symonds

“I think more needs to be done to highlight some of the different paths women and girls can take in STEM, following interests should be encouraged even when they change over time. Girls getting into STEM now might end up doing jobs that don’t even exist yet, so we need to stay open to exploring anything that comes our way. Going down one path does not mean you have to do it forever. Do what you love and see where it takes you”

 Ellen Pope

 

Do you come from an academic background? Are there any other women in your family that have a background in STEM?

‘’STEM has always given a boost to my inquisitive mind of learning and capturing more and more. It has always been a gratification to study STEM as it gave a broad overview of all the systems and creations of existence. Moreover, I come from a family of doctors and engineers. My siblings, my cousins and their partners are either engineers or doctors. Although, my father is from a business background. But my grandfather always wanted to have doctors and engineers in his family. So, he always used to encourage all his grandchildren to study hard and get into STEM. Our family has taught girls to be independent in every sphere of life. Most of the girls in our family are running their own businesses independently as we were all motivated to be self-sufficient at a younger age’’

– Kamalpreet Kaur

 

In ten years, what do you hope to have accomplished in terms of your work?

“As our CEO, Diptesh Patel, always says “It’s all about the people.” I full-heartedly agree with this statement and in ten years I hope to continue to reflect that in my work. The world of IT opens so many doors for people and unlocks opportunities left and right. I hope to have made a significant impact on people whether that is for our clients in new solutions, in a position of leadership and managing a team effectively or mentoring younger, like-minded consultants.”

– Katja Fischer

 

During your career, have you been mentored or supported by someone?

“I started mentorship in my last year of high school. I was confused about my future and felt conflicted about what to do with my career. My mentor was a massive help and listened as I talked through my ideas and decided which direction to take. Since starting work, I have a new mentor and she has made such a difference to my work life. I struggle with imposter syndrome, and it has been so helpful to hear from someone with more experience. I can speak freely with her and by discussing my thoughts out loud, she helps me come up with solutions to my problems and supports me in the challenges I face.”

– Katja Fischer

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