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Member organisation Everywoman announced the launched of an app to give young girls access to role models for careers in male-dominated fields.
Everywoman launched the app, called Modern Muse, at its Advancing Women in Technology forum to encourage women working in the science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) sectors to act as mentors for young people.
Karen Gill, co-founder of Everywoman, said: “You’ll never know whose life you’re going to change.”
The app allows women to showcase their careers so that young girls can have a better idea about what potential career paths could hold for them.
It also informs young girls of places they can gain work experience in these types of jobs.
A lack of role models in the Stem sector has often been cited as one reason for girls not choosing Stem careers, as they are not aware that women are engaged in Stem sectors nor what their roles involve.
“It’s like trying before you’re buying,” said Anne-Marie Imafidon, who set up the organisation Stemettes to combat the lack of women in the Stem fields.
Imafidon explained that although teachers can be very helpful in assisting young girls with their career path, they cannot be expected to know the ins and outs of every career. “It’s not just the schools that are the influence,” she said.
Many girls look to their teachers or parents for career advice, and are often turned off Stem careers by pressure from their parents. The Modern Muse app allows parents and teachers to register so they can also look into particular career paths and see women who have been successful in them.
Girls will make better career choices by “being informed” and “knowing what the possibilities are”, according to Imafidon, and Modern Muse can be particularly helpful for the Stem fields as it is not always clear what roles are available.
A number of Stemettes told the 500-strong audience members at the Advancing Women in Technology forum how the app had inspired them to start a Stem career.
One of the girls said that when she learned that many of the role models in Stem on Modern Muse did not have a technical background, she felt that she too could pursue a similar role. “Most people there don’t have a tech background; that makes me think I’m not that weird,” she said.
Another girl stated said that when she originally decided to be an engineer, she was told “maybe there will be too many boys”. And because the degree she wants to do is dominated by men, she has not been able to ask the advice of many women about careers she is interested in.
Modern Muse has helped her see what paths other women have taken to become an engineer, and reading about women’s experiences had helped keep her on her chosen career path. “If they can do that, maybe I can do that too,” she said. “I’m not scared any more.”
At the forum, Stemettes said they wanted to see Stem women on the app updating them about their daily work activities to give a better idea of what a Stem career looks like day to day, including photos of different tasks such as experiments and projects, explanations of what challenges are faced daily, and pie charts showing the time spilt between different activities in the workplace.
“People who have faced adversity and succeeded in the end are people I look up to,” one Stemette said.
Imafadon encouraged as many Stem women as possible to sign up to the app to showcase their jobs, roles and career paths and to encourage the next generation of technologists to go into Stem careers.
“It’s all about helping inspire, and continuing to support, girls like this,” Imafadon said.
The Modern Muse initiative was launched by Everywoman in 2009 before becoming an independent not-for-profit in 2015. Now supported by Everywoman, FDM, Deloitte, Keytree and BP, the application was developed in partnership with BP and Keytree to help girls access role models and opportunities in Stem.