If girls continue to be discouraged from STEM subjects then the world could be missing out on the next Marie Curie, the next Steve Shirley or the next Ada Lovelace, Stemettes founder Anne-Marie Imafidon has said.
A speaker at Inspirefest 2015, Imafidon is the founder of Stemettes, the award-winning social enterprise aimed at inspiring the next generation of women into STEM, as well as the co-founder of Outbox Incubator, an entrepreneurial summer camp of sorts for young women entrepreneurs.
She was one of the youngest people in the UK ever to pass two GCSEs in two different subjects at just 11-years-old.
In a video as part of AOL’s women’s leadership platform MAKERS, she spoke about how it feels to be a minority in the field of STEM. MAKERS launched in the UK on 20 April and is a women’s leadership platform that highlights the stories of groundbreaking women today to create the leaders of tomorrow.
‘Up to that point I had been completely oblivious being a woman in tech was a thing’
– ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON, STEMETTES
“Growing up, I was the girl that really loved maths and technology and that didn’t really hit me until a couple of years ago that that might be a strange thing or that I might be in a shrinking minority within that field,” Imafidon said in the video.
“It’s quite important to me to make sure that the future Anne-Maries, whether that’s my daughters or other girls all over, are able to express themselves and explore their love of STEM.”
Imafidon confessed that it was during a conference on a trip to the US that she had two big revelations about the shortage of women in STEM.
“The first revelation was that I was a ‘woman in tech’. Up to that point, I had been completely oblivious being a woman in tech was a thing.
“The second thing I learnt was that the number of women working in the technology field has been in a decline over the last 30 years.”
We need all the brains to solve the problems of the world
Imafidon warned that while STEM is solving a lot of the world’s problems, the world needs all of the capable brains possible and she echoed an observation Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code made at Inspirefest 2015 that, unless we make the tech industry more inclusive, it will only ever operate at 50pc of its true potential.
“If you have girls and young women being discouraged because they feel like it’s a boys thing, or they feel like girls don’t do maths, then we’re missing out on the next Marie Curie, the next Steve Shirley, the next Ada Lovelace, and that’s doing all of us a disservice,” she said.
“[Stemettes is] about girls and women from the industry meeting in an informal environment and being exposed to role models in a meaningful way. It allows them to see inside the businesses, inside the buildings where STEM happens and see that’s somewhere they could enjoy themselves.”
Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Book your tickets now.