Ask Anne-Marie about her childhood and chances are she’ll tell you there were lots of fun and games. But such a response belies the truth. Anne-Marie was a child prodigy – the youngest British girl to ever complete an A-Level in Computer Science at age 10. Naturally she followed her passions and talents into a career in technology. When she realised how stark the gender imbalance was in her field she founded Stemettes to encourage more girls to embark on careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Read Anne-Marie's story below.
Future Stars Bracelet
Anne-Marie’s intense focus and determination shine through quite literally in her bracelet. Her choices of the Star & Heart and Unbreakable are nods to her love of maths.
Finally, the birds speak of the efficiency Anne-Marie cherishes.
PUTTING THE HEART IN STEM
As is common among children, Anne-Marie had many career ambitions. She flirted with being a weather woman. She toyed with being a management consultant. She considered many avenues, but never that she could pursue her true passion.
In parallel, Anne-Marie was developing a deepening fascination with technology, maths and problem solving. From the excitement of writing her first ever story ‘Little Purple Riding Hood’ on a computer, and her wonder at finding it saved there the next day, Anne-Marie never looked back. She did two General Certificates of Secondary Education at 10 years old (rather than 16 as is standard). She did an A-Level in Computer Science the following year. She had a Masters in Maths and Computer Science by the time she was 20 because “I like to do things when I’m ready to do them, not when everyone else says I’m meant to be ready.”
But for all this potential, it took Anne-Marie a long time to realise that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) was a viable career path. Sadly, it’s a familiar story. As things stand right now STEM is a man’s domain with a tendency to frighten away women; only 14% of STEM employees in the UK are women.
Unfortunately very few people realise how dire things are. Indeed, when Anne-Marie herself secured a role working in technology for a bank, she was completely oblivious to the fact that women in tech are a unique and declining species. For her, this information came to light when she attended a conference in the US. And when it did, she realized this was a problem that she wanted to solve.She researched the issue. She wrote blogs. She decided she wanted to replicate the conference for girls and young women in the UK. And so Stemettes was born with the mission of inspiring the next generation of females into STEM through mentoring schemes, hackathons and panel events.
It’s clear that Anne’s self-assurance and self-belief have stood her in good stead in such an environment. And it’s these qualities she wants to impart in other young women through Stemettes; to have girls understand that working in STEM is something they can realistically do. Of course, as Anne-Marie herself admits, the problem of attracting women to the industry is complex and multi-faceted:
“The solutions have to be hit from different points and different angles. The main thing is exposing the girls to role models and the industry itself… the people they do know of who are programmers are all in the movies, and they’re all guys, and they all just sit in the dark and they just don’t have social skills. That’s basically the stereotype if you just see STEM on TV or in the movies, and so for us we get them to come in and see it’s not all guys, there’s loads of women, loads of free food. It’s bright, there’s sunlight and it’s creative… they start to see there’s so many options and they don’t just have to be a programmer or a mechanical engineer.”
Interestingly, it’s not just the Stemettes themselves who benefit from joining the field, but rather society. For one, with technology being such a huge impetus for future economic growth, the greater the working population lured to the field, the greater the advances will be. It was, after all, women’s innovation that gifted the world with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and bullet proof vests. As Anne-Marie stresses, it’s all about bringing that different perspective to the problem solving equation.
Somewhat ironically, as Stemettes has grown, Anne-Marie’s greatest challenge has been to find a solution to manage its growth. For a long time she was running Stemettes while also working full-time.
“When I started it was an experiment, but it just escalated and got really big, with loads of people reaching out. It was almost too much with my job, sleeping, eating, and a tiny amount of time for me to manage all of this. That was really tough and as we’ve grown and become bigger, the challenge has been managing that growth – we’ve got a team to look after, but we’re still focused on delivering fun at the events. There’s still food and there’s still quality across what we do.”
Now that she’s devoted solely to Stemettes, Anne-Marie prizes the freedom and flexibility which come with being her own boss. She may not know what she wants to be when she grows up but Anne-Marie is certain that her future is bright and that she will be successful... on her own terms.
ANNE-MARIE'S PERSONAL BRACELET DESIGN