Today is International Day of Girls and Women in Science, a United Nations-designated day to celebrate the role of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Durham High School is an institution that prides itself on its excellence in promoting STEM and STEAM, which includes the arts as well as the sciences, I feel conflicted about the day in itself.
I am a massive supporter and advocate, whilst at the same time, I am sad that this it is still necessary to commemorate such a day because it indicative that the gender gap in science and technology still exists across the globe, and, to a lesser extent, even in the UK.
I have written before about the androcentric view of history that I received at school back in the 1980s and it was the same with science; the celebration of female scientists in school only stretched to a project on Marie Curie in primary school. Nowadays, thankfully, students learn about the women of Bletchley Park, whose decoding efforts helped break the Enigma Code, and females such as the brilliant Katherine Johnson, an American woman of colour who worked for NASA on the moon landings, and who become immortalised in the wonderful film Hidden Figures. Katherine Johnson’s career at NASA saw her help launch the Apollo Lunar Module, the Space Shuttle and the Landsat satellite.
Thank goodness, many inroads have been made for women, but there is still a long way to go before true gender-equality in the sciences and computing will be achieved. Still, it is a consolation that we have made massive progress since my own Physics teacher told me in 1984 that Physics was not for girls. I wish he could see the wonderful young women, and now not-so young women, whom I have come across in my career, who have now trained as aeronautical engineers, computer analysts and nuclear physicists, amongst many other STEM professions!
Darcie elected to Youth Parliament
We were delighted to hear on Monday that Darcie in Year 10 has been elected to represent County Durham as a member of the UK Youth Parliament. The UK Youth Parliament is an organisation consisting of democratically elected members aged between 11 and 18. The parliament has 369 members, who are elected to represent the views of young people in their area to government and service providers.
Poppy’s swimming success
Congratulations to Poppy in Year 6, who has qualified for the Northumberland and Durham County Swimming Championships this weekend. She will be competing in the 11-year-old 100m backstroke event and it will be her first time in an Olympic-sized pool. We are sure this will only be the start of her ambitious journey. Good luck Poppy.