International Women's Day 2015‘Make it Happen,’ the 2015 theme for International Women’s Day couldn’t have been more appropriate to inspire Harrow Way Community School’s Year 9 Triple Science female students to consider a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) career. Joining girls from nine other secondary schools and 30 female STEM Ambassadors from local companies, the students recently enjoyed a day of creativity at Winchester Science Centre to find out more.

Mentored by the STEM Ambassadors who work for organisations such as Exxon Mobil, IMB, BAE Systems and Virgin Media, the students were initially given a marble run design and invention challenge. To provide extra inspiration and collaboration they were encouraged to look at each other’s designs which proved invaluable when they were tasked with combining their marble runs to created five mega-designs. Prizes were awarded for longest time, most reliable run, most stylish design, most impressive mechanism and most effective communication within a team which went to one of the Harrow Way teams.

A speed-networking session proved the ideal opportunity for students to talk informally with the scientists and engineers attending the event to find out what it is actually like to work in different STEM industries. Inspirational speeches were also given from two of the Ambassadors: Cary Marsh, an inventor and entrepreneur, and Sarah Kenny, MD at QinetiQ Maritime following which Dr Jen Gupta presented a Planetarium show highlighting achievements of women in astronomy.

Rachel Atherton, Head of Year 10 at Harrow Way said: “The STEM subjects can lead to an incredibly rich and diverse range of careers. We wanted these young female students, who at this age aren’t always aware or appreciative of the opportunities, to meet successful women in these industries so they too could consider the possibilities of a future in these areas. I was very proud of our students who impressed the STEM Ambassadors with their level of active engagement and excellent group work.”

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. It represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

It seems that in this instance the objective of the day could be considered a success. According to organisers more students were interested in pursuing a career in STEM at the end of the session than at the beginning.

Harrow Way has an impressive record with students doing well at GCSE in STEM subjects. In 2014 68% achieved to C grades in Maths, 78% to C for Additional Science and 62% A or in Physics.