Yorkshire Water’s Anne Newton took part in Forward Ladies’ STEM Inspired Leadership Programme. Here she shares her experience and what she’s gained from getting involved.
After a 20-year break from a full time technical role, I felt honoured to be chosen as part of the first cohort for the STEM Inspired Leadership Programme in 2016/17. Yorkshire Water’s willingness to invest in my personal development meant a great deal.
Building confidence and motivation
The Programme, as well as being a great opportunity to work with highly motivated and supportive women who I would not have met otherwise, changed how I see myself and made me more aware of how others see me. It has also given me a greater understanding of my personal values and brand, how to build a network of contacts, and how to receive support and give it to others.
Undertaking the Programme has given me the confidence to pursue other areas of interest outside my job role, including becoming an active STEM Ambassador, so the company has also gained from my increased confidence and motivation too.
Highlighting the opportunities of STEM
Part of my role as a STEM Ambassador is to change the outdated perceptions of what STEM careers and workplaces are like these days. To make a real difference, we need to engage with parents and teachers who have the most influence, informing them about interesting job roles that have an impact on society more widely. We also need more visible role models, for example, on posters; individual profiles that pupils can refer to, and inspirational speakers at school events could improve the image of the industry.
From a business perspective, employers should get involved in education from early secondary school age to make pupils aware of the variety of opportunities available and to encourage the study of STEM subjects. New entrants to the industry should receive mentoring from both internal and external sources, to provide a support network that helps them deal with any challenges and make the most of any opportunities.
Making everyone feel valued
But it’s also important to retain the skills businesses already have. Offering women challenging job roles with potential to progress, plus flexible working, including part time roles and creating an environment where everyone is valued, is key to that.
As women in STEM careers, we all have a responsibility to be good role models and be willing to talk about our career paths, the challenges we’ve faced and the obstacles we’ve overcome. Being enthusiastic about your role and employer could help to inspire the next generation and encourage others to consider a career using STEM too.
To get a copy of the FL STEM Report 2018 please click HERE.
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