As we celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February 2021, we turn our attention to our female scientists at WBS, both past and present.
Never in our lifetimes has there been a more pressing need for science, particularly research and development into medicines and vaccines. Apart from the current Covid-19 pandemic, we also have urgent work to do around climate and environmental matters, so that we need all the best male and female brains on the frontline. Here we celebrate some of our female scientists.
Tracy Hill leads our Chemistry department and has the following to say about girls in STEM at WBS:
Women make up 24% of the STEM workforce in the UK. At West Buckland we are bucking this trend – 50% of our A level Chemistry students are female! By studying a science, they are learning to become critical thinkers, to apply logic and to develop research, problem solving and analytical skills. As well as helping to explain the world around us, chemistry is a gateway to so many different careers. As well as teaching the doctors, vets and engineers of the future, we could also have climate scientists, materials technicians and product development chemists in our midst!
Stanya Gardner has been teaching in the Biology department at WBS for two years and is a passionate member of the team. For her, Biology is ‘such a broad and diverse subject. You can study tiny microorganisms, the human body, plants, animals and discover the beautiful complexity of the natural world. Studying science has also allowed me to travel around the world volunteering and working in nature reserves in South Africa, Costa Rica and Romania. Now it is perhaps more important than ever that we inspire and motivate more young people to work in science as sadly the Earth is not in a happy stable state, and as COVID has shown it is vital that we have strong, supported workforce investigating the science behind diseases.’
Our current Head Girl and co-head of the Medical Society, Elena Espinosa-Cabrera, wants to become a doctor. She says the following about her interest in science: “The reason I want to become a doctor is because I am fascinated by the science of how the body works, and how we can learn from these mechanisms in order to develop medical therapies to improve the quality of life of others. Another thing that attracts me about medicine is the balance of scientific understanding with altruistic values. I have always been eager to make a positive impact in other people’s lives, and a career in medicine would allow me to do make a direct difference to someone whilst fulfilling my interests in the medical research field. Especially in a future susceptible to further threats from disease and pandemics, I am up for the challenge of being at the front line to finding solutions to these problems.”
Year 13, Flora, feels that the school’s medical society has given her an edge in terms of her career: “I personally believe that Medical Society has provided me with the reality of how competitive it is to get into medicine or other related degrees at university. As a result, it has provided me with that motivation to work hard with my A-level studies as they are ultimately the first building block you must achieve before you think any further of securing a place at university.”
One of our Year 12 students, Maribel, said the following about her subject choices: “What I love about science is the multiple doors it opens. I find science super fascinating as it is part of our everyday life, and I love how it is always evolving and helping us understand and learn about unfamiliar things. Being part of the Medical Society has allowed me to talk about my ideas and passions with people who also share my thoughts and feelings. It has prepared me for discussions we might face in university interviews, as we often discuss relevant and controversial topics which are in the media.
We are delighted that so many of our former students and OWBA members are women who have forged their careers in scientific fields. Among the large cohort, there are:
Megan Henson (03-10F) – Engineering – Section Leader at Renishaw
Charlotte Walker (94-08B) Associate Lecturer and Post-doctoral Researcher at University of York (Marine Biology) (pictured below)
Rachel Groome (05-14C) F2 doctor at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS
Emma Ladds (00-07G) MBBCh MA(Oxon) MRCS MPH Academic Clinical Fellow, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
Catherine Longthorpe (01-09G) – Paediatrics Trainee
Evie Smalley (98-12F) – Osteopath
Daisy Harley-Nyang (nee Adams) (01-09F) PhD Microplastics in Wastewater and Sewage Sludge
Emma Moss (04-11F) Bayer Cropscience