It’s been a big week for Outbox execs. This summer, the girls have gone from Outbox newbies to fully-fledged STEM role models.
Fresh from the end of the tech, selfie and inspiration-packed six weeks that was the Outbox Incubator, the execs are embarking on the next phase of their Stemettes journey – to inspire other young women to get involved in STEM.
Four execs (Katrine, AJ, Jo and Hannah) and Head Stemette, Anne-Marie, spent Saturday 19 September in Cambridge with Girlguiding Anglia at their Inspire24 event. The aim of this weekend, held at Murray Edwards College, was to expose the girls to the different ways that STEM is shaping their futures, and how they can be part of the STEM revolution.
Anne-Marie kicked off the session by talking to the sixty girls present about why STEM needs them, taking them through stories of women who’ve been trailblazers in this field and exploring what a STEM career can hold.
Then the Outboxers got to have their say, with Anne-Marie and the girls in the audience asking the panel of execs questions about their STEM experiences. Questions ranged from “If you weren’t involved with STEM, what would you do?” to deep-and-meaningful topics like, “What’s your favourite chocolate?”. Here are some highlights…
What do you enjoy the most about STEM?
Top of the list for the execs was how exciting it was being young women in a field which is largely still dominated by men. The girls also spoke passionately about the impact of STEM on their day-to-day lives. “I love being involved with STEM because it gives me a much deeper understanding of how the world works,” said exec Jo.
How did you come up with ideas you worked on while at the Outbox Incubator?
The execs spoke passionately about how many of their ideas had been inspired by real-life problems. After finding brushing her teeth boring, Jo developed her app, Brush, which rewards users with cool perks like shopping vouchers if they brush properly. Hannah’s business idea came from her own experience of spending much of her teenage years in hospital. Katrine’s concept for her site, which assists with learning, was born after she found conventional ways of studying difficult.
But not all the girls entered the Outbox house with a fully-formed idea. AJ said she drew huge inspiration from the other Outboxers as she started to develop her concept, which involves coding for cool organisations in need of a tech guru.
How should I go about building a career in STEM?
The key piece of advice from the panel? Find an area of STEM you’re passionate about. Not sure yet which part of STEM excites you most? “Try before you buy,” recommends Anne-Marie, and use work experience and interning to explore as many different avenues as you can. Hannah also reminded everyone that it’s okay not to have a clear idea of where you’re headed – she, for example, fell into a STEM career.
After the panel discussion, the execs had a chance to chat with the girls in small groups. Conversations overhead included lots of chat about top vloggers (with Jo meeting a fellow Zoella superfan), discovering a shared love for all things anime, and heated conversations about everyone’s favourite app.
Quote of the day? “I can’t believe what you’ve achieved already – it makes me feel like I’ve got so much catching up to do!” (overheard being said by one of the Girlguiding leaders about OB Exec Katrine).
What a result. The ink has barely dried on the execs’ graduation certificates and they’re inspiring change already.