Empowered women defy gender expectations naturally
Following what you enjoy and defying gender expectations is key to having more empowered women taking on jobs in STEM.
How many women do you know who studied science? Or work in the energy sector? Or play football?
In the nuclear sector only 20% are women.
So meet: a management consultant in the nuclear industry with a flair for football. We interview her as part our women in STEM series where we speak to inspiring women who defy gender stereotypes with what they do. In our interview Ruby Lowe, who works for Hydrock NMCL, offers an insight into women working in the energy sector.
“I’ve just done what I’ve enjoyed doing the most”, says Ruby. It seems with passion and self-belief, gender shouldn’t come into the equation. Ruby gives us a hopeful prognosis for any woman that wants to follow in her footsteps. She tells 3Plus that now, more than ever before, females are occupying junior positions in her industry. Could this new wave of empowered women, like Ruby, be igniting a change in STEM? Could they be paving the way for a more equal workforce?
Lets hear what Ruby had to say on the subject.
Hi Ruby, could you tell us a bit about what you do?
I am a management consultant in the nuclear industry. I provide specialist technical support to organisations within the nuclear industry. My work relates to all aspects of the nuclear lifecycle. i.e. nuclear new build, nuclear operations, nuclear waste management and decommissioning. We help with both the technical and project manager type activities to support our clients.
What made you want to follow a career path in the sciences?
I always found maths and science the most interesting subjects at school and I always knew I wanted a career in the energy sector. Using non-carbon methods of producing electricity has always been very important to me. I really want to contribute to the development of greener energy initiatives and technology to help the environment.
Have you noticed a lack of females working or studying in sciences?
Actually, in junior technical positions within the parts of the nuclear industry that I work in, I work with a lot of women. These types of industries were previously very heavily male-dominated and therefore sometimes you see that there are more men in senior positions within organisations. However I do feel like everyone is respected equally. I can understand that there is a belief that you might stand out as woman, but I really do think that attitudes are changing. I can’t really comment on other industries, however I have a great support network around me in my company and I’m really lucky.
How do you think we could encourage more girls into the sphere?
I think there is a stigma about women working in science and engineering industries, but there doesn’t need to be. Hopefully, as long as you’re willing to work hard and do a good job, gender should not come into it. I think girls need to realise that you can be anything you want to be. Every job is a possibility! I think that opportunities to take school children to experience different science career environments is very effective. It is especially important to meet women in those types of roles. Then they realise that we’re all just normal people doing a job we enjoy.
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Is anyone ever surprised by your field of work? Do you think gender or age can affect the way people are perceived in the workplace or during interviews?
I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone really surprised about my job because of my gender. They’re more surprised about the industry. I really do believe that no matter what age or gender you are, as long as you go into an interview backing yourself, knowing that you are qualified and would do a great job if you got the role, then that’s all you can really do.
So as well as studying sciences, you said you played 11 and 5 aside football. Have you always been aware that you have had to defy gender expectations to follow your passions or has it been a natural process?
It’s been very natural. I played football from a young age and I love it, especially the network of friends I have made in the process. I also just really enjoyed science based subjects at school. That’s why I went down a science/engineering career path. I’ve just done what I’ve enjoyed doing the most, rather than actively trying to defy gender expectations!
What would you advise any females looking to pursue a career in STEM?
Go for it! You can do any job you want to do!