Celebrating International Women’s Day with Tea and Technology

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Technocamps holds its inaugural Tea and Tech sessions, inspiring young women into science and technology.

Complementing our annual gala celebration of International Women’s Day, Technocamps focused our efforts this year on the next generation of scientists by holding the first ‘Tea and Tech’ events in both North and South Wales. A specially invited group of girls from local schools were invited to attend and to hear from some extremely motivational, influential and diverse women about their journeys into the field of science and technology.

The University of Glyndŵr hosted pupils from Argoed High School in Mold and St Joseph’s Catholic and Anglican High School in Wrexham who travelled to the campus for this very special celebration. The girls heard from Teri Birch, who is both a Technocamps Delivery Officer and a lecturer at the University’s Computer Science Department, and from Leanne Davies from Cyber Wales who also works at the University. Both spoke about their pathways into technology, and the difficulties faced, and overcome, by women in the sector.

The event was a chance for the girls to get ‘hands-on’ with technology in a friendly and supportive environment. Leanne set the pupils a rather difficult cryptography task which they decoded in record time. The girls then spent the rest of the afternoon programming Edison robots, controlling them with sensors and having races and battles with the small robots. All, of course, while enjoying tasty cakes and hot chocolate!

At Swansea University, pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, Ysgol Bro Dur, Ysgol Bae Baglan, Olchfa, St Joseph’s Catholic School and Ysgol Cwm Brombil spent a fantastic afternoon at Technocamps Headquarters. Professor Lisa Wallace and Dr Jessica Fletcher, both from the Applied Medical Sciences and Medical Pharmacology Department at the University, started proceedings with their insights into a range of career opportunities in Medical Science.

We were also privileged to hear from Professor Yamni Nigam, who lectures in Biomedical Science. Her specialist teaching subjects are wounds (infection and healing) and maggot (larval) therapy. Some of the slides she showed to the group came with a warning to look away at appropriate moments, especially if eating. Thankfully the girls weren’t that squeamish!

It was truly a packed agenda with Dr Natalie De Mello, an innovation technologist at Swansea University giving the girls a plethora of advice on how to choose appropriate career paths and to never give up on their goals. Dr Emma Lane, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at Cardiff University gave a detailed and engaging talk on her work in the field of treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

We were very honoured to have had such a wide range of relatable role models who addressed the issues of women being underrepresented in many STEM fields and to allow the girls to have the opportunity to visualise and be empowered to pursue success in STEM careers, thereby working together to remove gender imbalance.

The feedback that we received from the girls who attended both events was very positive with pupils describing the sessions as amazing, fun, and inspirational. All of them told us that they wanted to pursue a career in Science and Technology. What a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day!