Happy International Day of Woman and Girls in Science! Celebrating women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers has never been more important.

From pandemics to worsening climate crisis impacts, thousands of women in STEM careers across the globe work every day towards solving the most pressing issues of our time. The people and roles that make up this varied sector are far more diverse than the societal stereotype of a man in a white lab coat, armed with goggles and conical flask might suggest.

But as the saying goes, it you can’t see it, you can’t be it.

A recent inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM investigating Equity in the STEM workforce found that only 27% of the UK STEM workforce in 2019 were women, compared to 52% of the wider workforce.

Sadly, the low numbers across many areas of STEM industries extend to education. UCAS data shows only 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women.

The British Science Association (BSA) believes identifying, nurturing and showcasing diverse role models helps break down misconceptions about who can be a scientist.

One of ways we celebrate this diversity, is our Smashing Stereotypes campaign – collecting stories from individuals and teams to spark a change in perceptions of people and careers in STEM.

This International Day of Woman and Girls in Science, we’re highlighting some of the incredible women featured in our 2021 Smashing Stereotypes campaign.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates on this year’s Smashing Stereotypes campaign - featuring brand new profiles, interactive ways to get involved and plenty of resources!

Encouraging more women into STEM, one badge at a time

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee

A close up of Krystina with Smashing Stereotypes branding

Krystina is a Chartered Engineer and STEM Ambassador who works as a Senior Flight Systems Engineer at BAE Systems. She studied Aerospace Systems Engineering at university, after being inspired by an air show when she was in school, becoming the first engineer in her family.

During the first lockdown, Krystina set up her own business, AviateHer, selling accessories to promote diversity in engineering. She has since expanded her range of products to include various careers in STEM – part of the proceeds from each accessory goes towards charities working towards improving diversity in STEM.

“Thinking back to when I was studying and early on in my career, there was a lack of visible, female engineers. So, I’m passionate about encouraging and inspiring more girls to consider STEM careers and push past those gender stereotypes!”

“If there would be one stereotype I could ‘smash’ in STEM, it would be the idea of what a scientist looks like. Since starting my online shop, AviateHer, I have received many messages from people who have been told they “don’t look like a scientist”.”

“Diversity is needed in STEM, now more than ever, as misleading stereotypes can be off-putting for aspiring scientists. That’s why I started my small business – to highlight diversity in STEM and help to ‘smash’ these stereotypes.”

Girl power drives innovation

Four female technical experts from 3M’s global Automotive business are challenging stereotypes by thriving in this male-dominated industry

Engineering Cars of the Future team with Smashing Stereotypes branding

With major developments such as self-driving and electric cars moving at a fast pace, the Automotive industry is reinventing itself.

Application engineering manager Nicky Bradley, technical project manager Marion Randall and application engineering specialists Anja Rohmann and Aluwani Nefale are one frontline team helping 3M’s Automotive customers innovate for the future.

All four work closely with car manufacturers and component suppliers to deliver cutting-edge solutions, such as addressing potential safety issues with developing lithium-ion car batteries for electric vehicles, and using coloured 3M engineered film to wrap cars instead of painting them, to improve their environmental footprint.

Nicky, who joined 3M a year after graduating with an advanced degree in chemistry adds:

“The last time I recruited for a position in our global Automotive team I received no applications from women, so we still have work to do.”

Marion says:

“There is no doubt it can be tough working in a male-dominated industry, but the landscape is changing as more young women discover the magic of science and technology.”

Marion hopes that more women will join her on the front line.

Let’s talk vet diversity

Daniella Dos Santos

A close up of Daniella with Smashing Stereotypes branding

Daniella Dos Santos is a small animal and exotics vet, and past President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). She became the youngest ever President of the British Veterinary Association in 2019, aged just 34, guiding the profession through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniella has championed #VetDiversity throughout her presidency, championing the different career paths available to vets, the diversity of people within the profession, widening participation, and the different ways into veterinary medicine and vet school.

Her journey into vet school was not straight forward, with it taking five attempts and a whole separate degree (molecular genetics) – and nearly becoming an accountant!

“My journey to becoming a vet has taught me that science is for everyone, is everywhere and there will be an aspect of science that is right for you. Science isn’t for the ‘brainy’ – all you need is an open and inquisitive mind.”

“Different experiences and backgrounds act as strength. Having a diverse team with diverse skills and perspectives who are supported and encouraged, will result in better public health, animal health and welfare outcomes.”

“If a profession is representative of the community it serves, there is greater trust and understanding between owners and veterinary professionals – which can only be a good thing for the animals!”

Visit the Smashing Stereotypes Campaign

Do you know some women in STEM that deserve to be celebrated? Spread the love using the hashtag #SmashingStereotypes on social media.