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Vicki Jeffery: My Perceptions of the People Like Me Launch Event

Launch Event People Like Me

PhD student on a 3 month internship with WISE

8 October 2015

The launch was held at the National Media Museum in Bradford as part of the British Science Festival. Upon arrival, there was a networking session during which I was immediately struck by the diversity of individuals and companies attending the launch.

Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster opened the event with a talk about her own interesting and unusual route to her current career, which began working with Black & Decker where she was awarded a ‘Young Engineer for Britain’ award. She is now the lead producer of business news on many BBC news programmes.

The event continued with short talks from Helen Wollaston, the director of WISE, and Professor Averil MacDonald OBE, the author of People Like Me. Helen Wollaston highlighted that although some progress has been made and women now make up 14.4% of all people working in STEM, up from 12.8% in 2014, the percentage of women in the UK STEM workforce remains the lowest in Europe - so there remains a need for a novel approach to engage young women in STEM. Professor Averil MacDonald OBE subsequently delivered an inspirational talk on the development of the ground-breaking resource - People Like Me.

WISE’s ‘Not for People Like Me’ research found that engagement increases when girls are able to focus on how their own individual attributes compliment roles in the STEM sector. In this research, it was found that girls are more likely to describe themselves using adjectives, in contrast to boys who are more likely to describe themselves using verbs. This is a key reason why previous approaches to increasing the engagement of girls in STEM have been relatively unsuccessful, as these approaches focus on what individuals in each job role do, rather than the personal attributes which suit them to their role. This revolutionary approach to engaging girls with careers in STEM allows girls to map their personality type to roles within the STEM workplace. This creates an environment whereby girls can see that people like them are happy and successful in careers within STEM.

These talks were followed with a discussion panel brilliantly chaired by Steph McGovern. The panel was comprised of:

  • Professor Averil MacDonald OBE,Author of People Like Me
  • Lucy Collins, Nval Architect,Ministry of Defence and Chair of the WISE Young Women’s board
  • Katherine Mathieson - Director of Programmes,British Science Association
  • Daryl Moth - Assistant Director of Learning (Science), Wildern School in Southampton.

It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from these individuals about how People Like Me can be used as a practical tool to make a big impact across a variety of platforms.

WISE are offering training in the People Like Me approach for teachers, ambassadors, and organisations wishing to be licensed to use the approach within their own organisation or during outreach activities. Licensing is the opportunity to be recognised by WISE as licensed to deliver the resource to girls. Following a hands-on training session, licensed organisations will be listed on the WISE website and will be able to use the ‘People Like Me – Licensed’ badge in their marketing materials. Furthermore, organisations will receive up to 15 printed People Like Me packs and will receive access to digital files to enable further use and printing of the resource.

If your organisation is interested in licensing then please read more about training and licensing and contact Ruth Farenga r.farenga@wisecampaign.org.uk for more information.

Or if you are an individual interested in training, please complete this form to register your interest.

Written by Victoria Jeffery,

Biology PhD Student, University of East Anglia

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