As a female scientist I’m used to being the only girl in a room, or ship, full of men. It’s never bothered me, and in fact I rather like it. I’m also not sure I could handle the politics if I worked in a women only office!
When I first started work, the graduate intake I was part of was very male dominated. But I firmly believed that all this was going to change. I thought I was simply part of the first wave. After all – how can anyone NOT be fascinated by science.
It didn’t happen. For several years the graduate intake was only male. For no other reason than that the female science graduates simply weren’t there. It’s a recognised problem. Girls are not taking the science options in school.
But things are starting to shift. Many technology companies are starting to run STEM days with the local schools, and insisting that both boys and girls are equally represented. It will take time, but it will change.
So I found myself wondering what I could do. One of the things I noticed when I was doing school visits as part of the promotion for Red Rock was that the teachers were often very interested in the fact that I was a scientist and liked it when I talked to the kids about some of the science behind the concepts in the novel.
Plus the main character is a girl – and girls can have adventures too!
So maybe writing about girls in STEM is what I should be doing. After all, it was reading SF that first inspired me into science. Perhaps if I wrote something along these lines it might help inspire the next generation of budding scientists.
And this was the starting point for the YA novel I’ve just competed. The novel I’m about to start agent hunting for. Is there a market for such a thing? Who knows! But I’ve really loved writing it, reading up on the science and thinking “What if?”