Princess Royal presents WISE Awards to inspiring women in science, technology and engineering
HRH The Princess Royal presented awards to some of the UK’s most inspiring women in science, technology and engineering recently at the WISE Awards in London. PIF gives you a run down of the main winners and their achievements.
The WISE Awards were presented on 12 November by the campaign’s royal patron, HRH The Princess Royal, at a gala dinner in London. Her Royal Highness said:
WISE is not asking anyone to make a special case for women…our aim is to break through the stereotyped image of the kind of people who work in science, technology and engineering so that it becomes a career of choice for more people.
Dame Mary Archer, chair of the Science Museum Group and former chemistry lecturer, added: “This movement has been a long time on the launch pad, but now it is really on the runway and ready to take off." As ever, the winners highlight the sheer diversity of STEM roles in the 21st century, shining a light on the brightest female talent.
WISE Award 2015 winners
Stephany Baladas, 18, winner of the Intel-sponsored WISE Girl Award, left school for an Apprenticeship in healthcare sciences. It was there that she discovered a love for Medical Engineering. Stephany wants more girls – and their families - to know about scientific apprenticeships in the healthcare sector.
Stephanie said: "As much as I am thrilled and excited at winning this award and it being presented by Her Royal Highness the Princess, I am also happy that in getting this award I would be an inspiration to the future women in science and technology."
The WISE Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Winston Capital, went to Elizabeth Watson, who started her career with Rolls-Royce the same year the Sex Discrimination Act hit the statute book, 1975. Liz went on to be the first woman to hold the post of Chief Engineer in the company and finished up as Head of Product Safety Assurance. “My career has been enormous fun, I’ve travelled the world, it’s been full of variety and opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Dr Marily Nika, Program Manager, Engineering at Google won the WISE Influence Award, sponsored by Royal Academy of Engineering, for the number of girls she inspires to love technology. Marily’s TEDx talk, ‘My hypothetical daughter’s career in tech 2055’ has been watched 38,800 times and, having taught herself to code at the age of six by reading her older brother’s books, she now inspires girls to love technology through online communities such as London Geekettes.
How to attract and retain more women
Bechtel, winners of the WISE Employer Award, sponsored by AWE, set an example to others on how to attract and retain more women in technical roles. The engineering, construction and project management company recruited 13% more women to their graduate programme in just 12 months and reduced resignations of women from 20% to 9%.
“Working with WISE helped Bechtel raise the bar in terms of tackling this issue”, said Sarah Golding, Infrastructure Lead Proposal Planner. Bechtel set a target, introduced practical measures (including unconscious bias training to 400 senior leaders), introduced flexible working, ‘keep in touch’ days during maternity leave and sponsored employees wanting to go back into education. Forty percent of engineers working on the Bechtel/London Underground Vauxhall station upgrade are women, bucking the industry trend.
Inspiring young people
The Inspiring Young People Award, sponsored by Atkins, was presented to Selex ES’s Head of Lean Engineering, Kris Harrison. In the three years she has been running the company’s outreach programme in Luton, the number of girls on the work experience scheme has risen by more than 250%. She targets girls from disadvantaged areas and ethnic minority backgrounds, persuading large numbers to choose engineering by bringing them on site to find out what it is all about.
Kris said: “It was such an honour to win this award, and fantastic to receive recognition for all of the work that both myself and my ambassador team have done... having the opportunity to work with young people, being able to inspire them to explore future STEM careers, and watching them develop their skills and confidence is rewarding in itself, but this award has been the icing on the cake.”
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