STEM flow: Scientist’s inspiring message for teens

Friday, 15th July — By Charlotte Chambers

Dr Aderin-Pocock students Ares Hamilton and Gabriela Jaramillo Zapata with head Sarah Beagley and Cllr Praful Nargund

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, pupils Ares Hamilton and Gabriela Jaramillo Zapata with head Sarah Beagley and Cllr Praful Nargund

“PEOPLE told us we couldn’t do it – but we didn’t listen.” This was the inspiring message from speakers at a special science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) event who were talking to teenage girls on Friday.

Space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock – who stepped into Patrick Moore’s shoes to take over presenting duties on the BBC’s Sky At Night – told pupils at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School of her “tumultuous” childhood.

Growing up in a council flat in neighbouring Camden and going to school “down the road” from EGA in the 1970s had its challenges for a young black girl whose parents had split and who was later identified as dyslexic.

But she told pupils at the school in Donegal Street: “When we look at STEM statistics, we have a diversity issue. STEM is still full of a herd called ‘pale, male and stale’ white guys doing science. And the thing is, it’s a very blinkered view of science. Science is truly for everyone.”

The STEM event, which was organised by deputy head Ewan Scott, also featured Royal Institution talks and careers advice.

Another speaker, Councillor Praful Nargund, told students that when he and his mother started their fertility company, Create Fertility, more than 10 years ago they were told they “were the wrong type of people” to become entrepreneurs in a science and tech industry.

Speaking after his talk, he said: “We were told that our ideas were unrealistic. We saw it as ambitious.”

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