WOMEN IN TECH PROFILE: Laurelin Chase, student at Clacton County High School and FDM everywoman in technology awards finalist in the “One to Watch Award” category, talks about the role models that encouraged her into tech, and how we can get other girls to consider science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
What do you love most about STEM?
What I love the most about being a student and working in STEM is the fact that it’s a great starting point for me, I have teachers and technicians to guide and help me as I experiment with new materials, processes and projects. Not only that, but being a student also means I have access to programmes such as STEM and Women in Technology that allow me to work both independently and alongside peers and professionals to create innovative and unique projects. However, my favourite thing about being a student is being able to positively influence and encourage younger girls to join STEM and embrace their creativity.
Did you benefit from having a role model when starting your career in the tech industry?
When I was younger, I didn’t really have a role model in tech, I just knew that I liked making things and so I made them! However, as I got older and learned more about design and technology, I considered my role model to be my grandmother who studied and taught engineering, at the same time as raising three kids! She and my mum both encourage me to work hard and be creative, and seeing another woman succeed in tech inspired me to get more involved with and STEM and encourage other girls to do it too.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I think the best advice I’ve ever been given is to not listen to what other people say. I think this is important because I let what people thought of me affect the way I lived my life for a very long time. It made me miss out on some great opportunities and experiences, however, when I embraced this new attitude, nothing could stop me! When all my friends dropped out of STEM I didn’t, I kept on going, and I’m so glad I did! It helped me discover something that I love doing and gave me a lot of courage to try new things!
Are you actively involved in any initiatives promoting gender diversity in the tech industry?
At the moment I am not involved in any initiatives promoting gender diversity other than the women in tech programme that my school runs, which I’m not directly involved with, but it encourages young girls to do things such as STEM and product design. Although I may not be directly involved with any initiatives currently, that hasn’t stopped me from speaking to younger girls in my school and encouraging them to join the different STEM clubs our school has to offer or to consider taking GCSE product design as an option, and to my delight a few of them already have!
How can we make young girls more enthusiastic about STEM subjects?
I think the way to make young girls more enthusiastic about STEM subjects is to give them the chance to try them out, a lot of young girls may not realise what STEM is really about and haven’t had the chance to find an aspect of it that they enjoy or can relate to, thus encouraging them to pursue it. Another way I think we can draw girls to STEM is by making it relevant and giving them the opportunity to create something they care about, or solving a problem they never knew they had the power to solve, and showing them that they really can make a change.