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Name:  Miss Taahira Goolam Hoosen (MSc (Med); PGCE) Role/Occupation:  Lecturer & Humanitarian Country:  Cape Town, South Africa I recently had the privilege of interviewing Taahira Goolam Hoosen, a lecturer and a humanitarian. Hoosen has two major passions, education coupled with empowerment and curiosity of the human body. With degrees in the areas of biology, human genetics and haematology, she works as a lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences Education at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, at the Writing Lab where she provides academic development support to both students and staff. What excites her most about her job is that she is, “empowering them [students and staff] with a practice that goes beyond the university. Literacy is something that they can use in their professional space.” Hoosen is also the CEO of the Humanitarians, an organisation which undertakes projects that aim to empower South Africans. In 2017, they undertook the Sustainable Book Project, led by Hoosen which distributed 20 000 books across the country to increase literacy levels. She believes that, “Science will unlock our potential as a continent but it cannot be done alone… we need to empower and lift our budding scientists and keep mentoring them so that they can access opportunities and go beyond.” She is passionate about women in STEM and believes that women should pass on whatever they learn to elevate the status of the women in the STEM space in Africa, “Our skill set is unique and can be applied in any sphere so always ensure that you keep progressing and build your skill set.” Read on (as I am sure Hoosen, a literary enthusiast, would personally advise) and be inspired by this enterprising and determined Geeky Girl. 1.   Describe what your work entails.   I am a lecturer at the Department of Health Sciences Education at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. I work in a humbling space called the Writing Lab where I provide academic development support to both students and staff. Specifically, I empower them with the practice of academic literacies that can enable and progress their success and formal access at university. 2.   Describe your STEM journey. I have two passions, one being education and empowerment and the second stemming from my curiosity of the human body. I trained as a Biomedical Scientist at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (BSc: Biomedical Sciences in 2011) then went on to complete an Honours in Human Genetics (BSc (Med) Hons in 2012) where my thesis focused on further understanding retinitis pigmentosa in the Western Cape. I then came to a fork in the road since I wanted to pursue a MBChB but realised that I should capitalise on my passion for teaching and learning and went on to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. I came back to Medical Sciences graduating in 2017 with an MSc (Masters of Science) focused on HIV-associated Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the University of Cape Town. During my studies I was always involved in part-time work and experience opportunities in the university space. These allowed me to explore the possibility of academia, network and build my diverse skill set ranging from monitoring and evaluation to online facilitation and most importantly the practice of academic literacy which I believe is crucial for success at university. The latter experience basically allowed me to merge my two passions, academic development support in the form of empowering students with the academic literacy practices in the Faculty of Health Sciences. This is how I ended up in academia and my current position. 3.   What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?   I work in a humbling space where I have the time to get to know my students and staff that want assistance with their writing on a personal basis because academic literacy and particularly writing is socially embedded and is a practice and process – it is not obsolete nor done in isolation. I am excited to be a part of their journeys as they navigate the often confusing writing space in university. What gets me excited and motivated is that I am empowering them with a practice that goes beyond the university. Literacy is something that they can use in their professional space. I am always excited for the next student or staff member that reaches out for my help as it challenges me on how best I can assist them, improve their science communication and what new strategies and methods WE can learn together and experience. 4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space?   It is challenging but nothing gets done without the correct mind-set, perseverance, determination and passion. As a woman and the eldest sibling in my family, being away from my home town and comfort zone, my commitments are more than just advancing my career, it is taking care of my family which requires careful planning, organisation and time management. Every day is a learning opportunity and my philosophy has always been about passing on whatever I learn so that we can continue to elevate the status of the STEM space in Africa especially for women. It is my small way of empowering us together. 5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field?   Be curious. Have a dream and work smart to turn it into reality. Possibilities are endless and YOU have to shape your own path. I started in Science and was aware of the normality to progress towards being a Scientist i.e. Masters, PhD, post-doctorate, however I was fortunate enough to merge my two passions and found another path towards progression in my career. This didn’t happen on its own but through determination and working consistently until I was where I wanted to be. There are many careers within the STEM field besides working in the laboratory space and it is our duty to seek those opportunities and go beyond. Our skill set is unique and can be applied in any sphere so always ensure that you keep progressing and build your skill set. 6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”?   Certainly, there are opportunities everywhere and it is about accessing it and being driven to want to be a part of that movement. Often it just requires us to be able to see beyond and not let any barrier stop our dreams. Many obstacles will come our way but it is about staying true to the dream and ambition. I believe that Science will unlock our potential as a continent but it cannot be done alone – we all need to work together to create and make that vision a reality – men and women, old and young need to work together and we will reap the benefits. As a starting point we need to empower and lift our budding scientists and keep mentoring them so that they can access opportunities and go beyond. We need to keep progressing. 7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career?   I was recently voted as one of the Top 200 Mail & Guardian’s Young South Africans for 2018 which is such an honour to have for my work done in education. My recent appointment at UCT was on the New Generation of Academics Programme which allows me to work on my PhD full time – a post that only a handful in South Africa have been granted. I work on a voluntary basis as the Chief Operating Officer for the Humanitarians NPO/PBO and we have been involved in many, many projects empowering South Africans, young and old and one project that is dear to my heart was our Sustainable Book Project. I led this project in which we distributed close to 20 000 books to increase the literacy levels in our country. I am very humbled to be where I am today and anything is possible ONLY if we have the mind set and temperament to know where we need to be and to work until we are there. 8. How do you maintain a work-life balance?   Organisation is key but it’s also about having goals outside the work space. If all facets of your life are stimulating, it overflows to the other sectors. I love what I do and do what I love is really key to this balance. Time is the most important commodity and is something we can never get back so I make every minute count and for me there is always time for everything if organised correctly. I pray regularly and eat well which also contributes to this balance so you need to have a balance in everything in life. 9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you?   To be honest, I don’t have a role model but am inspired by a few people, the late Princess Diana as well as Khadija Bint Khuwaylid and Aisha Bint Abu Bakr, both wives of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) as well as my mother, the superwoman. I believe that I shape my future and should be my own role model, borrowing golden nuggets from inspiring people here and there. 10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found?   You can find me on social media, follow me on LinkedIn or you can drop me a mail to collaborate/network  Taahira.goolamhoosen@uct.ac.za Twitter:   @tyRa_Moola LinkedIn profile:   Taahira Goolam Hoosen (Moola) Instagram:   @Taahira_Moola Taahira Goolam Hoosen interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter @dhrutidd
Name:  Dr. Sneha Anand Email id: sneha.anand@psych.ox.ac.uk Background: PhD (Neurobehavioural Genetics) MSc (Biotechnology) BSc (Life Sciences) Achievements: MRC centenary award for early career researchers Medical Research Council Excellence in Research award Society for Research on Biological Rhythms Current occupation:  Scientist at University of Oxford Interviewed by:  Interviewer is Lavanya, a High School STEM student in Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. She wishes to major in Engineering. She is happy and proud to pursue STEM and is passionate about propagating STEM among girls What motivated you to take up the science stream? Was it something you always wanted to do?   Yes. I was always inclined to do something that would help people by improving human health. I knew it would give me a sense of satisfaction and hence I was very much inclined towards medicine and biological sciences. After receiving a basic degree in life sciences, what persuaded you to take up scientific research instead of medicine which most girls tend to lean towards?   Medicine was always my first choice as it would mean communicating directly with people/patients. However, it was actually my neighbor who inspired and motivated me to take up research. There was a time when I would think that while doctors' do a great job diagnosing and treating people, it is actually the researchers who do all the groundwork. Scientists spend their time focusing on investigating the problem and finding a drug that would help treat diseases prior to the doctors who prescribe it in the clinics. And that to me was extremely fascinating. Can you elaborate on why you steered away from medicine and toward research? We researchers study the basis of any problem/disease/disorder in dept. We then translate it and pass on the information to pharma companies to carry out clinical trials and develop drugs. These drugs are then prescribed by doctors in the clinic. So the fact being responsible to carry out the base work is extremely fascinating to me. Can you briefly discuss what you do for work and some interesting research activities you conducted? Currently, I am looking at biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. This disease is diagnosed, by brain MRI, very late in life and at that point it's too late to reverse the disorder and give treatment. My research is focused on identifying some proteins in the blood very early in life which would tell us that the person would be at a risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Can you recall any eureka moments in your career? I think a eureka moment for me was when I received the excellence in research award with an audience of 3000 people. Can you briefly detail the research you won an award for? I won an award for my research during PhD. It was based on studying the molecular functions of genes involved in the circadian clock mechanisms. Can you also discuss what research you are currently conducting? Currently, I am looking at biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. This disease is diagnosed, by brain MRI, very late in life and at that point it's too late to reverse the disorder and give treatment. My research is focused on identifying some proteins in the blood very early in life which would tell us that the person would be at a risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Do you mentor anyone? If yes, who do you mentor?   Yes, I have mentored many PhD as well as undergraduate students. I also take on school students (age 13-15) who are interested in pursuing science/research and let them shadow my work for a few days to let them have a feel for the research field. Having guided several science students, have you observed anything of special merit in STEM girls?  Yes. In my experience I have always felt STEM girls are much more focused, diligent, perfectionists and have a tremendous eye for detail. Any advice you would like to share with STEM girls?   I often say to my students, science and rather research is great! Don't be afraid of research. Although it is an unconventional career choice to be a scientist, if you are able to find a cure for a deadly disease the feeling you will get is unbeatable! Any advice you'd like to give your 18 year old self?   Follow your heart and your dreams. Leave behind the peer pressure. Do something new and innovative. Even today, students in India are focused on engineering and medicine and it is quite frustrating to see them aiming for these two mainstream careers. I keep telling the new generation, be unconventional and think out of the box. There are a whole new load of career options. Choose a career in which you are interested in, work hard and you will be unstoppable. Where can we find out more about your work?   https://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/sneha-anand https://www.linkedin.com/in/drsnehaanand/ Also read my publications including research papers and reviews
1) Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do. My name is  Marguerite Matthews  and I am a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow working at the National Institutes of Health in the Office of the Director. Prior to doing science policy work, I was a neuroscience researcher. 2) How did you arrive at this career? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I learned about the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships during my time in graduate school. Once I knew there was an option to use my scientific research background to learn about and influence federal policymaking, I started seeing the value in my translating my education and training to work outside of the laboratory. I found it quite empowering to know that there was a need to apply my science knowledge to addressing societal challenges. 3) What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Having a voice in my work environment, being able to make important contributions to my agency and my community, and working with a passionate group of people excite and inspire me to go to work every day. 4) What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Thanks to therapy, I now prioritize my happiness and mental wellness above all else! So I regularly engage in activities that relax me or that I enjoy, such as spending time with family and friends, getting a manicure, going to the movies. The more I invest in caring for myself, the less stress I experience or tolerate. When it comes to feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty, I often have to remind myself that I am smart, capable, and just flat out dope! Sometimes it takes looking at my CV and/or talking to my mentors and support system to recognize that my experience, my voice, and my work has value. 5) Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? There are many people I admire and who inspire me on my professional journey. My dad, and his love for knowledge and inquiry, is an especially prominent source of inspiration for me as a scientist. However, there is no single person whose life or career I have modeled my own after. Rather, I’ve had a series of people in my life who have helped me realize the goals I’ve set for myself as I have moved along the path to self-discovery of what I want to do professionally. 6) What is your experience of being a woman in the technology industry? Being a woman of color in STEM hasn’t been without its challenges but has largely been a positive experience for me. Almost every mentor I’ve had – male and female – have guided me along the path and taught me how to advocate for myself and to be strong and confident, even when I may be the only one who looks like me in the room. I meet so many women and young girls who are often discouraged from pursuing STEM careers for one reason or another and it saddens me to know that they haven’t had the access to STEM opportunities or mentorship that I have to allow me to flourish and choose based on my own desire and not the presumptions of others. 7) What advice would you give to young women entering the STEM field? BE YOURSELF! Be bold and daring in your pursuit of anything that makes you hunger to learn more. And be assured that there are people out there who want you to succeed and reach your highest potential. Because your authentic-c, curious-, and determined-self is what we need to change and advance science and technology. 8) How do you measure your success? I don’t measure my success, exactly. I set goals for myself and I aim to achieve them. Not achieving any given goal doesn’t necessarily signal lack of “success”. And “failure” can often a sign of progress towards my goal(s). As long as I am growing my expertise, generating new ideas, creating or improving opportunities, all to make contributions to my field and my community, I am succeeding.
Background The purpose of our longitudinal study is to develop ongoing insights into girls studying STEM and women pursuing STEM careers, in response to the continuing statistics evidencing the underrepresentation of women in STEM, stereotypical environments and double standards. Our 2016 survey of 163 women between the ages of 15-46 representing 16 different countries world wide, focused on developing insights into the current experiences of girls studying STEM at college and University, using a mixed methods approach. So far data from our 2016 survey has found significant links between early  childhood interests  and future STEM career plans, the significant  role of unrelated female models  in helping reduce attrition from STEM later on in life,  confidence levels drop in the second year of college, computer Science  has one of the highest attrition rates, and the impact of different subjects and professional confidence in  relation to future plans.  This series analyses the impact of age and country of residence on confidence getting a job in STEM. The bar graph below shows the age scale of participants on the horizontal axis and the average confidence scores of ‘getting a job’ from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest on the vertical axis. Results indicate that professional confidence peaks to a score of 5 in the first year of College at the age of 16 and slowly declines throughout this time period, continuing into the first year of University at the age of 19 reaching a much lower 3.3 confidence level. As our previous research identified this lack of confidence may be correlated with the lack of female role models for young girls to ‘relate’ to, making the STEM environment a more ‘masculine’ place where girls struggle to ‘identify’ and ‘find a place’ thus, in return professional confidence ‘ takes a hit’.  “Actively show stories of women leading successful tech projects, Give them as much attention as male scientists” (participant 111).   After the age of 20, confidence levels ‘pick up’ and stay at an average score of 4 throughout the 20’s. However there is a dip in this confidence of 20% at the age of 28. This may be due partly to limited work life family balance options amongst the STEM profession,  which other research  has acknowledged plays a role in attrition from STEM, particularly amongst women. Furthermore,  other research  suggests girls in College also feel that they will have to ‘give up’ having children for their STEM careers, suggesting that for women they see a trade off between their career in STEM and having a family, they feel the options to do both are lacking. There is another sharp peak in confidence at the age of 32 to a confidence score of 5. A number of interrelating factors here could be contributing to these confidence levels; women in their 30’s may have transitioned careers and have already established their work life balance ‘norms’ giving them more control. It may also be that these women chose not to start a family and as a result have more time to focus on their careers. This isn’t to say women can’t do both, it is possible that different companies and different family dynamics mean women have children and maintain and progress in their career. Women in their 30’s may have worked exceptionally hard to establish their place within the workforce. Future research should explore whether age and confidence levels correlate with length of time in current job. Results from the graph also indicate a sharp decline in participants aged 41 from 5 to 2.5 at 46. Again there are a number of possible factors that need to be explored before making conclusions; Covert sexism, where the masculine nature of the workplace may see even more gender disparity when it comes to women wanting to move up the ranks into senior positions, when the opportunity comes for a promotion research suggests they are more likely to get overlooked for their male counterparts,  more women on the boards and in leadership positions may help address this.   “Equal pay and seeing more female role models in higher ranked positions” (participant 86). Overall these findings would indicate that girls start off with higher confidence in their younger College years and this confidence slowly declines until they reach their 30’s. There are a number of possible interrelating factors which could answer for this; University is more atoned to the male gender, lack of female role models in senior and leadership positions, negative media about STEM professions and gender pay inequality may send a message to women that they are ‘not as good’ resulting in them questioning their own self worth when job hunting compared to their male peers. This series also examined the role of geographical location on confidence getting a job The graph below indicates the geographical locations of our participants. The largest representation is in North America, followed by Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. The graph below indicates the average confidence levels of participants by their country of residence,   with the lighter shade of blue indicating the lowest confidence levels and the darkest shade indicating the highest.  Findings suggest that the UK, North America, Mexico, Vietnam and New Zealand have the highest confidence levels followed by Canada, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, India and Indonesia, with the lowest levels reported in Spain. Does this suggest more Western societies are progressing and combating these stereotypes more than their non western counterparts? This may be ‘popular’ belief but in fact our results do not indicate this pattern nor does other research which has found that actually  western and non-western societies do not dictate the level of representation and confidence of women in STEM ; one way to compare gender equality and opportunities for women in STEM is to see statistically their representation across different STEM sectors and graduation from STEM degrees in different Countries. Research has found that some leading western countries have a much lower representation of women in STEM than in Muslim countries, and places like Indonesia (see this  article ).  Therefore this would suggest that countries with the highest confidence levels are those where STEM education is most accessible to women . Reports have indicated that the Higher Educational sector in big economies such as the US, the UK and other parts of Europe have developed a vast amount of different educational routes with an array of programs developed for women’s ‘human centered approach’ such as the ‘Social Sciences’ ‘Nursing’ and ‘Child development’. In comparison, developing and transitional economies where acute shortages of educated workers have in turn prompted efforts by governments and development agencies to increase the supply of STEM workers (see  article ). Therefore to increase confidence this would suggest that more encouragement by the government and policymakers for the uptake of STEM amongst these economies would help in the representation of women in STEM and increase confidence in this sector as a viable option for women to pursue.    “More outreach, more movements, more education” (participant 139).   Encouraging confidence and uptake of STEM College and Universities can help to encourage girls to take part in different preparational activities by holding different open evenings and information talks about different programs they can get involved with. More opportunities for international movement between Universities and job markets in STEM environments may help encourage women to participate whose countries lack incentives and opportunities; more scholarships, grants and internships. Government and policymakers need to make an effort to eliminate barriers for women in STEM and increase incentives for participation in Higher Educational STEM subjects. We can change the future if we work together. This has been the fourth in a series of exploration into the experiences of women in science, technology, engineering, or maths. Keep an eye out for more posts as we look at other influences affecting women’s careers. Contributors Andrea Lewis, Molly Goodman, Raiya Al-Ansari,
Swati Patankar Qualification:  BSc, PhD, Professor at IIT Bombay Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), is recognised worldwide as a leader in the field of engineering education and research IIT Bombay has 17 departments, 13 multi-disciplinary centres, and 3 schools of excellence. The annual Science & Technology festival of IIT Bombay, Techfest, which was started in 1998, is held in the month of December every year and is Asia's largest science and tech festival. Email ID:   patankar@iitb.ac.in Achievements:  Research grants for 15 years, Teaching Awards Interviewer is  Lavanya , a High School STEM student in Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. She wishes to major in Engineering. She is happy and proud to pursue STEM and is passionate about propagating STEM among girls. When you were college ready, what motivated you to select the science stream? Was it something you knew you wanted to do? Yes, I knew I wanted to do biology when I was ready for college. What did you obtain your basic degree in? Life Sciences After receiving a basic degree in Life Sciences, what persuaded you to take up scientific research instead of medicine which most girls tend to lean towards? My father is a physicist and my mother has a PhD in education so the "research" career was already being done in my family. My sister was good at English Literature but she got into medicine and did that. So my family let us choose whatever we liked. Can you recall any eureka moments in your career or any epiphanies? Yes, when I saw some interesting data and realized that in the malaria parasite, there is both sense and anti-sense RNA. Do you mentor anyone? If yes, who do you mentor? I mentor all my students, MSc and PhD. I have also taken high school students in my lab for short projects (only girls) and mentored them as well as Bachelors level students. Having guided several science students, have you observed anything of special merit in STEM girls? They really love science and have sometimes even gone against their family traditions to do what they love. Also, many of them grab the opportunities given to them and work really well, learn a lot in the lab. Any advice you would like to share with STEM girls? Be more confident! Any advice you'd like to give your 18 year old self? Don't be scared of failures! You will learn more from them than success. Where can we find out more about your work? http://www.bio.iitb.ac.in/~patankar/new/  
The purpose of our longitudinal study is to develop ongoing insights into girls studying STEM and women pursuing STEM careers, in response to the continuing statistics evidencing the underrepresentation of women in STEM, stereotypical environments and double standards. Our 2016 survey of 163 women between the ages of 15-46 representing 16 different countries world wide, focused on developing insights into the current experiences of girls studying STEM at college and University, using a mixed methods approach. Previous series have found links between the impact of early childhood interests and how they affect the pursuit of STEM careers in the future ( please see our previous blog ) and how higher education affects a woman’s interest and confidence in STEM ( see our previous blog ) Following on from our previous 2016 findings, this series analyses  the relationship between different preparation activities girls undertake related to their STEM careers with their 10 year plans and confidence ‘getting a job’. Preparation and 10 year plan Graph 1 shows the relationship between different preparation activities on the horizontal axis and 10 year career plans on the vertical axis; the pink bar indicates the percentage of girls who predict they will be in a STEM career in 10 years and the green bar indicates the percentage of girls who predict they will be in a non STEM career. Results from Graph 1 indicate that girls who undertake preparations in the form of research and enrollment onto programmes are around 10% and 12% respectively more likely to pursue a STEM career in the future compared to girls who undertake preparations in the form of interview practice, attending seminars and conferences, studying for STEM and taking part in volunteer and internship opportunities. Participants expressed their concern for creating more programs focused on young girls; “Have more programs aimed at the youth” suggesting that Schools and Colleges could provide more opportunities for young girls to get involved with STEM; introducing coding clubs, women ‘role model’  guest speakers and promoting general awareness and exposure to different STEM subjects. In the long run, these early influences could foster stronger STEM identities in women helping to retain them in STEM careers. Furthermore  results indicate that overall preparations for STEM are a good protective factor against attrition from STEM in later life,  with more than 60% of girls who take part in preparational activities in total having plans to stay in STEM careers. The findings may suggest that those girls who invest more time into preparation such as carrying out research activities are less likely to deviate away from STEM careers in the future.  These initial insights suggest that girls should be encouraged to take part in different preparations regarding STEM.  Preparations and Confidence Graph 2 shows the relationship between the different preparations and the perceived confidence levels of girls ‘getting a job’ in STEM. The horizontal axis indicates the confidence scores and the vertical axis indicates the preparational activity using the colour keyed circles. Research suggests  that low ‘Professional’ confidence is a contributing factor causing attrition from STEM. Interestingly the results in graph 2 indicate a  significant association between different preparations and confidence ‘getting a job’ . ‘Interview practice’ as a preparation activity is associated with the least confidence, with ‘programs’ being 25% more likely to be associated with confidence in getting a job compared to interview practice, with an average score of 4.2 out of 5. Moreover,  women emphasised their concern that more programs need to be made available to help encourage young girls “There should be more accessible programs for girls at younger ages and more well-rounded visibility and representation of women in STEM fields in media“ further adding substance to the argument that society needs to be targeting STEM interest at a young age in girls, which may help build their confidence over time and suggests that media representation may hold some accountability for the confidence levels in women. Although more companies are starting to realise the benefit of employing more women in the field (see how Microsoft’s  #MakeWhatsNext  and Google’s  madewithcode  are helping to nurture young female talent with initiatives) there is still a long way to go.    ‘Volunteering/internships’ were also significantly positively correlated with confidence  with an average score of 4.1 out of 5, with one participant emphasizing the importance of internships in creating a more structured career focus, “Internships. Internships. I can’t stress that enough. Getting hands-on experience can be the make-or-break when deciding what field one wants to pursue”.  Research was also expressed as one of the most significant preparation methods increasing confidence scoring around 4.1 out of 5 , which would suggest that increasing more funding and flexibility for women pursuing research in STEM would help improve confidence and lower attrition, with participants further suggesting “in STEM fields, increased grants and scholarships will entice more females”, “Scholarships/funding for women to take postgraduate courses” as key areas that could be improved to encourage future generations of women to pursue STEM as a career.  This would suggest that ‘programs’ and ‘research’ play an important role in both attrition and confidence.   These findings may be explained using ‘investment theory’  in that preparations which involve a large amount of sacrifice and investment with regards to time make it less likely to deviate from this path even in circumstances that are adverse, thus possibly acting as a protective factor against the adverse effects to women’s confidence with regards to stereotypes and ‘masculine’ environments.  Encouraging more women to continue studying STEM   College and Universities can help to encourage girls to take part in different preparational activities by holding different open evenings and information talks about different programmes they can get involved with. Increasing the awareness and accessibility of internships and volunteering opportunities for girls. This can be achieved through social media and student unions at college and universities where students can access different opportunities. More research opportunities for girls to get involved in at College and University. Extra curricular activities could focus on research skills and helping students develop their own interests and small independent projects.  We can change the future if we work together. This has been the third in a series of exploration into the experiences of women in science, technology, engineering, or maths. Keep an eye out for more posts as we look at other influences affecting women’s careers. Contributors Andrea Lewis, Raiya Al-Ansari, Molly Goodman
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