The current state of science and technology owes a great deal to its many unknown heroes. We wanted to shine a spotlight on one very special Hexagon hero who has inspired thousands of girls to believe anything can be achieved in the world of STEM. Empowering the makers of the world should not be gender specific.
Saturday 11 February is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, but in an ideal world it wouldn’t exist. The fact that it does is a reminder that we have a persistent lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
It’s also a platform to highlight great achievements. Claire Waterson is breaking the mould and over the years she’s encouraged thousands of others to do the same.
Gender equality is more than a fundamental human right, it’s a necessary requirement for a sustainable future. It’s painful to write those words. It’s so obvious, so evident and shouldn’t need saying.
Nature recently reported that men outnumber women in federal science jobs by 2 to 1. Science and industry is suffering from a deepening skills gap, yet until recently half of us were encouraged to stay at home. Instead of learning Maths, Science and English, girls were taught to sew and bake cakes (not to denigrate those skills, but there was no choice involved).
What we were really sewing were the seeds of the crisis in which we now find ourselves.
Happily, International Day of Women and Girls in Science is also a celebration. It’s a time to celebrate the great people around us and say thanks for your hard work. Thanks for your commitment. Thank you for standing up and showing the rest of us what’s possible.
This month we say goodbye to Claire Waterson, who over her 11-year tenure at Hexagon, has proven time and again that one person can make a very big difference to the lives of thousands of young people.
Claire spent her time at Hexagon as Facilities Coordinator at Silverstone Park in Northamptonshire, England. Silverstone is the home of British motor racing. It’s also home to the Silverstone Technology Cluster, a hub for science and technology focused businesses where Hexagon operates a contract metrology facility.
It’s a place pretty much guaranteed to inspire young minds to take up a career in STEM. Despite that, motor sport remains strongly male dominated both off and on the track. That’s what Girls on Track aims to address, watch the video to find out more:
Claire’s been a champion for Girls on Track for years and she was a leading figure in the partnership between Hexagon, eNovation Consulting and Girls on Track. That was the start of a project which has gone a long way to addressing gender inequality in science and technology.
The relationship was covered by Motorsport UK in July 2021.
Many people would be satisfied with helping set up such an excellent project, but not Claire. She’s on a mission to empower the makers of tomorrow, and she’s used her position in Hexagon and Silverstone Park to reach out to out to school children and show them the possibilities of a career in STEM.
There have been careers awareness visits to the technology cluster making links between education and industry. Bridging the skills gap means inspiring young people, especially girls, to consider a career in STEM, and the best way to do that is by getting kids out of the classrooms and into the fascinating world of advanced design and technology.
Another of Claire’s projects has been a coding club called Full STEAM Ahead, again in partnership with Hexagon, Enovation Consulting Ltd and Silverstone Park developer MEPC. This is an ongoing project which sees volunteers going into schools and teaching kids about programming with the use of LEGO® Education’s ‘We do 2.0’ technology kits.
The club has been an amazing success. One headteacher commented:
“The sessions provided challenge, excitement and fun as the children built Lego devices and controlled them using Ipads. From the first to the final session, every child had a brilliant time and they were disappointed when it finally finished. We have also received some fantastic comments from parents who have expressed how much their children are enjoying this after school club.”
These days, girls and boys have the same opportunities at school, but there remains a vast gender difference in the STEM sector. Breaking the gender bias is a complicated issue, but it’s people like Claire who are fighting on the frontline and they do so for the benefit of the entire world.
Claire, we wish you all the best in your new position, and we give you a heartfelt thanks for all you’ve done to breakdown the barriers and inspire the great women of tomorrow.