Students become Randox scientists and engineers for a day at STEM Challenge event
Over 50 students from across Northern Ireland celebrated International Women in Engineering Day on Friday 23rd June, by taking part in the first annual STEM Challenge event, hosted by global healthcare firm Randox Laboratories.
The students, from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College Belfast, joined female scientists, engineers, software developers and mathematicians from Randox, for a number of interactive activities organised to mark the special day, which is aimed at tackling the gender divide in engineering and other science, technology and maths-related disciplines.
Speaking at the event was Professor Máire O’Neill of Queen’s University Belfast – Professor in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and former recipient of the British Female Inventors and Innovators Network’s British Female Inventor of the Year award.
Professor O’Neill commented;
“I’m really delighted to be here today at the Randox STEM event and to have the opportunity to speak with girls who could potentially be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, software developers, and significantly, on today, International Women in Engineering Day, the next generation of female engineers.
“Engineering is not a job for men. The representation of engineering as a “masculine” job is a socially constructed one, and at that, an inaccurate one. The skills required for engineering are found just as readily in the young girls I see here before me today as they are in their male classmates – patience, analysis, communication, empathy and problem solving.
“Enabling these young girls here today to meet with female engineers from Randox provides them with really positive role models who can share their experiences and hopefully encourage the students to really consider what it is to be an engineer.”
The students had the opportunity to ask the Randox representatives all the questions they wanted to know about working in STEM, and were treated to a tour of the facilities at the recently acquired Randox Science Park, which has become the new headquarters for the company.
Linda Magee, Head of Human Resources at Randox added;
“We want young girls to know that engineering is as much a viable career choice for them as it is for their male counterparts. At Randox our female to male ratio of engineers is significantly higher than the UK average – 15.8% as opposed to only 9% – but we still have a long way to go and we feel quite strongly that we can utilize Randox’s status within the Northern Irish business sector to really spearhead a paradigm shift in how we view engineering disciplines.”
Mark Gray, Biology Teacher at Victoria College Belfast said;
“We were delighted to hear that Randox were hosting a schools event in support of their STEM campaign, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. It’s important to give girls the chance to get involved and gain hands-on experience within these different disciplines and deliver the message from an early age that they have the same opportunities as boys in every part of life, especially their careers.
“By giving them more information and explaining the benefits of STEM we’re opening the doors for girls into areas that they might not have considered before. We need to make certain that young girls have the right support and experience to choose the right job in their future professions and a campaign like this offers us the perfect opportunity to do so.”
The Randox STEM challenge on International Women in Engineering Day, Friday 23rd June, was the culmination of a week-long initiative celebrating women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, and in leadership roles across Northern Ireland.
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
Over 50 students from Northern Ireland are gearing up to take part in the first annual ‘STEM Challenge’ hosted at the Randox Science Park. The event, held on International Women in Engineering Day, will round off a week in which the global diagnostics company will unveil a number of initiatives to celebrate and promote women in STEM.
The ‘STEM Challenge’ is aimed at tackling the gender divide and skills gap in the science, technology, engineering and maths industry. On average in the UK women make up just 9% of the engineering workforce. Though Randox is bucking the trend with almost 16% of female engineers, it is still keen to challenge itself to encourage more women to view it as a viable career option.
The week kicks off with the launch of a returnership scheme which is being supported by the NI Chamber of Commerce. This was inspired by the experiences of staff members who returned to work after a career break, and meets a growing demand for a modern approach to recruitment. It will challenge society’s misconceptions surrounding career breaks and support both men and women in restarting their careers. As well as supporting individuals, a UK Government report found that increasing the number of women in work by just five per cent could create £750m extra in tax revenue.
Tackling the gender divide from the opposite end of the career ladder will be the focus at the end of the week. Pupils in Years 10 and 11 from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College will join R&D scientists and engineers at the new state-of-the-art Randox Science Park for a day of interactive sessions and talks to coincide with International Women in Engineering Day, 23rd June.
Welcoming the students and giving the first talk will be the renowned Máire O’Neill. The Professor of Information Security at Queen’s University Belfast and one-time British Female Inventor of the Year is an inspiring role model and passionate advocate for promoting STEM careers to girls.
The company is also hosting an evening to celebrating local role models in its flagship Randox Health clinic in Holywood. Guests will hear from Dorcas Crawford, senior partner at Edwards & Co., and Johann Muldoon, recently named Best Female Architect in Europe. Both women are recognised for their commitment to equality across industry and their own personal achievements in their fields.
Linda Magee, Global Head of HR for Randox said:
“This promises to be a tremendous week but more than that, it has the potential to have long-lasting benefits. We are pleased to be supported by so many inspiring women as well as the NI Chamber of Commerce.
“Randox is an important employer in the UK and also in Donegal. With our expansion plans comes a need to recruit the very best and brightest people. We hope that our schemes and initiatives will engage young people as well as those who are thinking about returning to work.”
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
As a world-leader in diagnostics, dedicated to improving the health of populations across the globe, we know the importance of inspiring and nurturing the next generation of scientists who will carry on our hard work and strive to realise our vision.
Our scientists at Randox are all equally passionate, knowledgeable and experienced, and as such often make visits to schools, universities and colleges to spend time with students interested in asking our team about what it’s like to work in a global healthcare company.
This month, Marta Crudden, an R&D Scientist in our Serum Production Team, paid a visit to St. Bride’s Primary School in Belfast, to spend the day with the pupils there and showcase what a career in science has to offer.
“When I was offered the opportunity to speak at St. Bride’s Primary School I jumped at the chance, because I am passionate about encouraging school children to pursue a career in STEM. I have a Biomedical Degree from Queen’s University and also spent 5 years there conducting cancer research, so science has played a big part in my life.
“I was delighted to be able to share my experiences with the children, who were very interested in what I had to say. It was very enjoyable listening to and answering their imaginative questions, and I particularly enjoyed the presentation I gave to the pupils on DNA, because they were all incredibly curious and eager to learn more.
“They were fascinated to hear that all cells, not just humans, have DNA, and therefore were throughly attentive when we moved on to our interactive session on DNA. During this session I showed them how to extract DNA from strawberries and what it really looks like in a real organism.
“This prompted a lot of interesting questions about cloning animals, including dinosaurs! There is nothing quite like the imagination and curiosity of children!
“A few days after my day at St Bride’s I received a number of messages from some of the parents saying thank you for my talk, and for inspiring their kids to become interested in science.
“I like to think that some of those children will go on to choose STEM subjects when they go to highschool, and could even end up working here at Randox! I’m delighted to have been able to share the work we do with the next generation of scientists.”
For more information on how Randox promotes STEM careers within schools and universities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org