Sisters are doing it for STEMselves

Klaudia and Kensey

Two Teesside sisters have bucked the trend of women in STEM by climbing the ladder in both the science and engineering sectors.

Statistics show that women make up only 12% of all STEM employees in the UK, yet 18-year-old Klaudia Robinson from Hartlepool, swapped her childhood dream of becoming a hairdresser for a career in engineering, thanks to an insight into the world of STEM careers provided by her older sister.

Klaudia, a Management Trainee at Seymour Civil Engineering, who is currently studying for a HNC in Building Studies at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said:

“I don’t think girls really think of careers in science, maths, engineering and technology as options when they’re at school because there are so many more stereotypically feminine subjects and career routes that you are more aware of.

“All through school, I wanted to become a hairdresser but when I got a taste of a career in STEM, thanks to my sister Kensey, I quickly changed my mind.”

Kensey Robinson, 20, started her journey into STEM when she completed an apprenticeship through Hartlepool College, with the Hartlepool based medical diagnostics company, Hart Biologicals, in 2015.

Since then, Kensey has gone on to work as a Lab Technician, working on a number of the firm’s largest projects.

“Whilst at school I’d never thought about going into a science-related career, but I was really enjoying the subject so one of my career advisors brought to my attention the apprentice vacancy at Hart Biologicals.

“During my first year of college, studying for a BTEC in additional science, I was the only girl in a class of boys, headed by a male tutor.

“It didn’t faze me, as I wasn’t worried about being the only girl, but having female role models for young girls to look up to is important. I hope one day I can be a role model to young girls interested in a career in science.”

Both Klaudia and Kensey have been actively involved in promoting STEM careers to school and college students in the region, accompanying Seymour Civil Engineering and Hart Biological's STEM Ambassadors to careers events and open days across the North East. In addition, Klaudia has also become a CITB ambassador.

This year, for the second time running, Seymour Civil Engineering has been recognised for its commitment to inspiring the engineers of the future, by being awarded the Institute of Civil Engineers' Mike Gardiner Cup, for support of the institute’s education programme.

Klaudia said:

"During my time at college, I have always been one of very few women. It’s something that I’m used to now and it’s only when I stop to think about it that I realise just what a difference in gender there is in engineering and construction.

“As a whole, when you see images representing STEM careers, they tend to show men busy working on a construction site, men in a science lab, or male maths teachers in the classroom. Those images reinforce the perception that those industries are for men.

“Kensey is the reason I decided to go for an apprenticeship, and I’m truly grateful that I got the insight into STEM from her that I did. My career in engineering, working for Seymour, has been fantastic so far as no two days are ever the same. With new projects coming in all the time, I always have something new and exciting to work on.

“We are typical sisters and we still argue, but by both completing apprenticeships, and working in fields that aren’t the norm for girls our age, I definitely think we’ve grown closer.

“I’m really proud of Kensey and how well she’s done. It makes me smile to hear the most squeamish person I know come home and talk about how she’s been testing rabbit brains.”

2018 is the Year of Engineering

A career in engineering is exciting, rewarding and creative and yet there is a big shortage of engineers entering the workforce. The Year of Engineering aims to inspire the next generation and show young people what a career in engineering is actually like.

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