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International Women's Day: A parent's view on the power of education in empowering girls to make a difference through STEM

International Women's Day: A parent's view on the power of education in empowering girls to make a difference through STEM

On International Women's Day, Spilios T., Data & Analytics Engineer at AstraZeneca and St Mary's parent, shares his thoughts on the vital role education plays in enabling women to make a difference in the world, as the scientists and innovators of tomorrow.

I am particularly happy my daughter has recently joined St Mary’s School here in Cambridge. I have seen her happy receiving a high-quality education that will help her to expand her horizons. Indeed, there is nothing more important than to get optimism through education, building a brighter future, methodically, every single day.

All these girls at school will bring a better future. The reason that I am certain about it, is because I see this first-hand in action; that is, how women in science are thriving and improving lives of millions around the world. I feel lucky because for the past 18 months I have been working in AstraZeneca as Senior Data and Analytics Engineer. At AstraZeneca we are proud of our five values; we follow the science, we put patients first, we play to win, we do the right thing and we are entrepreneurial. These values form the basis of our daily work.

The work that each employee delivers to best serve the whole planet. Women are needed today more than ever and their services are very much appreciated because of their results. In a similar approach with what is described in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Everyone has something good to offer and the world is needing it more than ever.

Nikola Tesla (July 10, 1856–January 7, 1943), one of the most radical rule-breakers of science, said: “The female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Women will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress”.

You may not have heard his name before, but maybe you have heard about the electric cars that have been named after him? The new-to-be reality that Mr Tesla predicted many years ago is evident more than ever today with the growing numbers of women who enter STEM fields and take leadership positions and will do in the generations to come.

Take for example Professor Sarah Gilbert, 'The woman who designed the Oxford vaccine' as BBC describes her in the recent documentary charting the development of the Oxford vaccine. She was born in Kettering, a town in Northamptonshire in 1962. Her father worked in the shoe business while her mother was an English teacher and member of the local amateur operatic society. Professor Gilbert realised she wanted to be a scientist while she was at school. She went to Kettering High School for Girls in the 1970s where she was described as quiet, hard-working and extremely intelligent. She had a passion for music and played the oboe in the school orchestra. She achieved nine O-Levels, with six A grades. A great outcome, that can inspire many young girls. A graduate from a school for girls, she is currently leading the fight against COVID-19.

I too hope that my daughter with her friends at this wonderful school, will get this unique opportunity offered and facilitated by their brilliant teachers and the encouragement of the Headmistress. The world is needing them.

Watch the recent BBC Panorama on The Race for the Vaccine