Elizabeth showing the way for future scientists

October 30, 2013 | Community News

A female geologist with a north east development company has been speaking to an audience of young people from across the region about how they can follow in her footsteps and build successful scientific careers for themselves in the future.

Elizabeth Shaw, who works as a senior geologist with the County Durham-based Banks Group, was one of the speakers at the ‘Climbing Ladders and Smashing Ceilings’ event, which was held at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle and organised by Tyne & Wear Museums.

Elizabeth was invited onto the speaker panel as part of her role as an ambassador for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET), a national organisation which aims to create opportunities to inspire young people about STEM topics.

STEM Ambassadors work with young learners to actively encourage them to enjoy subjects within the four scientific disciplines, and inform them about the unique career opportunities that are available to them therein.

Elizabeth’s presentation covered a range of topics, including how she became interested in science as a child, how she got her first job in the STEM industries, what her experience has been of being a woman working in a predominantly male environment and what most inspires her about her work.

The event was hosted by well-known north east entrepreneur Caroline Theobald and BBC science presenter and comedian Helen Keen.  Other speakers included Jane Sullivan of Newcastle College, SCM Pharma’s Dianne Sharp, Josey Wardle of Zero Carbon Futures, Anne Johnson of University College London and Newcastle University’s Carla-Leanne Washbourne.

Elizabeth, who has worked with Banks for the last nine years on a range of different landmark projects, says: “I was interested in all things scientific from a young age, and was determined to follow a career in this area, but it’s easy to see how young people can be put off going down this road if they haven’t got access to all the information they need about working in the STEM industries or get the impression that it’s not an option for them.

“Events such as this, and the work that STEM ambassadors undertake, aim to tackle the stereotypes that can arise about working in the sciences, and provide both boys and girls with the information and advice they need about the opportunities that are available to them to work in science and technology.

“There’s a clear focus all the way down from Government level on how important scientific progress and achievement is going to be to the UK’s future economic prosperity, and the more young people we can inspire into looking in this direction for their future careers, the greater our chances of success will be.”

Eileen Atkins, Learning Officer at The Discovery Museum, adds: “We were delighted to have Elizabeth  and all our speakers taking part in our Climbing Ladders and Smashing Ceilings event, which was the final part of a programme based around the Discovery Museum’s Trailblazers exhibition, which marks and celebrates careers of female scientists and engineers.

“Elizabeth was an engaging, enthusiastic and motivational speaker, and her contributions were instrumental to the very positive response and success of the event.”

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