Women in STEM '23

What we did to celebrate women working in STEM careers in light of Ada Lovelace Day.
Events 16 min read

Katie SimpsonPublished 16th Oct 2023

What a day! On 12th October 2023, Labman hosted Women in STEM - a day of celebrations designed to inspire young women and raise awareness of the achievements of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

The day was a great success, and we hope to have highlighted the amazing career opportunities available to young women and girls.

As the first ever Ada Lovelace Science Cabaret in the North of England we wanted to make sure we didn’t leave anyone out.

Here at Labman we take pride in our work with STEM educators as we continue with our ongoing pledge to encourage children (boys and girls) to start thinking about the fantastic career opportunities available in this sector. We actively seek to take part in events which help to showcase the fun and rewarding opportunities available. We believe we have a vital role to play in inspiring the pioneers of tomorrow; perhaps they will work at Labman and build robots which can speed up the process of drug discovery, aid cancer screening, help discover optimal performing battery materials or aid world food security.

Typically however, engineering disciplines have always been dominated by males, and therefore we take great pleasure in hosting an event to turn the focus towards women in STEM!

Throughout the day, we ran a carousel tour of the factory for as many local schools as we could fit into the day. The girls learnt about a Labman robot which is used to prepare liquid and solid formulations and they tried (mostly in vain) to make the formulations faster by hand. They played with Labman’s (homemade!) interactive games, such as the reaction game, ball balancer and wire buzzer game. They ate popcorn while watching a robot which played chess with itself using AI. We showed the girls all the cool projects going on, our workshop, our in-house sports facilities, and held a mini competition to see who could build the highest structure using only marshmallows and dry spaghetti!

Female school students looking at robot arm
Female school students stand with Labman team member discovering a robot arm
Female school students at Labman women in STEM event
Female school students completing spaghetti and marshmallow tower challenge
Female school students completing spaghetti and marshmallow tower challenge
Woman sitting in Labman massage chair
Female school students at Labman women in STEM event
Female school students learning about machinery in Labman workshop
Female school students at Labman women in STEM event
Female school students at Labman women in STEM event

By night, we hosted a Science Cabaret with talks from five inspiring female speakers who talked about their research interests, careers and successes.

Between helping themselves to delicious canapés supplied by M Brown Catering and gin in a selection of flavours, our guests chatted to our brilliant Labman ambassadors who volunteered their time to showcase the projects they are working on. We also heard from Joy Plowman, one of our very own female engineers, who talked about how she was always encouraged in her career.

Science Cabaret Speakers

Raffaella Ocone
Our keynote speaker of the evening gave us an insight into the world of chemical engineering through the eyes of the women that have contributed to the discipline. Focusing on her own career, that spanned almost three decades, Raffaella showed us how chemical engineering developed and evolved to help solve the challenges of our time.

Marta E Cecchinato
“Champions for Change: Towards inclusive computing cultures”

By drawing on the history of women in computing, and intersectional feminism, Marta discussed how technologies can be biased, sexist and racist and what we can do to help change this - even if we are not computer scientist, we can all play a role to make computing a more inclusive field.

Gozie Offiah
Gozie spoke about her own career path and on diverse medical careers. She spoke about her experiences in medical leadership and medical education and about the main themes explored in her PhD on gender in surgery, addressing personal and professional identities and intersectionality.

Martine J Barons
’Using maths to save the bees (and us)!’

Reader in Statistics, Director of the Applied Statistics & Risk Unit, University of Warwick.

Sophie Nixon
Chair of Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Manchester.
Her work focuses on understanding the ‘rules of life’ in environmental microbiomes, and how we might harness them to develop new biotechnology to solve global issues, such as the CO2 emissions crisis. She spoke about her latest major research venture – harnessing thermophilic microbes from hot springs to convert waste CO2 into value-added products.

We are delighted to have partnered with Dr Marcella Sutcliffe, Trained Writing Retreats Facilitator at Chapelgarth who brought us this fantastic line-up of speakers.

We can’t wait to do it again! Thank you to all volunteers who helped out, our fantastic speakers, guests and hosts.