Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The first ScienceGrrl AGM!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Isla Stevens, who will now regale us with merry tales of Friday's first ever ScienceGrrl AGM. Over to you, Isla!

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be able to fit in a trip to London for the first ever ScienceGrrl AGM – calendars, tote bags and posters everywhere. It was great to see a few familiar friends from the consultation evening at the end of the year, as well as meet some fantastic new faces – it’s not every day you get to chat to someone who spends their workdays firing lasers.

Having been involved in the consultation evening and subsequently as a social media minion under the guidance of Anna Zecharia (seen the tumblr yet? Why not?) I’m also lucky enough to now have membership of ScienceGrrl, which meant I was able to vote on the motions being raised. It was a strange and wonderful feeling, realising that I had I say in where we would go next – and realising that I was along for the journey as well.

Stand back, we’re going to try science.

The mood at the AGM was fantastic – there was no need for icebreakers or introductions, and there was a great variety of people there, from all ages and career backgrounds, networking delightedly and having a good laugh as they did so. It was somewhat humbling to realise that just eight months ago, none of this existed. Eight months later, ScienceGrrl has calendars around the globe (including a few winging their way to my old High School), and a far-reaching network with a vision. They are changing the lives of women in STEM, little by little – they’ve certainly already had a positive effect on mine. It’s easy to feel isolated, I think, when you’re working or studying in a field in which you are a minority, and the AGM was vastly comforting in that sense. It made me realise that we are all of us passionate about the same things – the same vision:

A world where access to a fulfilling STEM career is decoupled from gender.”

And the same mission:

To celebrate and promote STEM careers by building and strengthening a network of people who are passionate about passing on their love of stem to the next generation”.

It’s safe to say ScienceGrrl is already on task. The network is already there, and it’s only getting bigger. Every day I see new ideas and collaborations popping up on my Twitter feed – the usual suspects are generally in there somewhere, keep an eye out for our esteemed director, Heather Williams, the indefatigable Faisal Khan, head of science at The Market Bosworth School, or Fran Scott, science translator extraordinaire.

Plotting in the pub?

There are plans for a dedicated online forum with regional chapters to establish a network of support based right across the country. There are finalised events already marked in the (wonderful shiny ScienceGrrl) calendars – if you’re in the Manchester area check out the afternoon of mathematical magic andelectronics, hosted by ScienceGrrl in collaboration with theManchester Girl Geeks to mark International Women’s Day. We’ll be working with schools, being unswervingly positive in our conversations with policy makers, and launching new projects such as interactive science workshops and a work experience network, as well as sending a team of students from Tower Hamlets to Mission Discovery 2013 with some of the calendar proceeds.

ScienceGrrl is young. But in eight short months we’ve gone from strength to strength, from a mildly irritated twitter conversation about That Video (Grr) to a respected grassroots organisation with a plan. The next year will both be exciting and a learning curve for all involved. However the overwhelming feeling I took away from the AGM – and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t just me – was a sense of cheerful optimism. I for one believe ScienceGrrl and friends are more than ready for any challenges the next year will throw at us, and I feel privileged to be involved.

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