The right role models could bring more women to STEM



Female inventors pave the annals of history and yet have often languished in obscurity, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields.

While Crick and Watson are world-famous, did you know their work owes a debt to Rosalind Franklin? And while Charles Babbage won plaudits for his early-day computer, The Analytical Engine, it was Ada Lovelace who saw its true potential and wrote code for it.

The STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have given us inventions that have revolutionised the world – and many of them were thought up by women.

But worryingly, a recent PWC report uncovered that 78% of students can’t name a famous female working in tech today. Is a lack of media coverage to blame? Or is it the result of a low number of women in the field? (Only 15% of the STEM workforce in Britain is female. Of this number, just 5% are taking on a specialist field like computer science.)

2018 Microsoft research suggests the key might be role models. “Girls in the UK are much more likely to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or maths if they have a role model who inspires them.”

Microsoft’s investigation– which included a survey of 11,500 11-30-year-old women across Europe – found that more than half were interested in getting a job in the sector if they looked up to a STEM role model. For respondents that didn’t have a role model, only 32% were interested in pursuing a STEM career.

It’s a problem Microsoft UK Chief Executive Cindy Rose is tackling head on. She wants to “expose more girls and young women to positive female role models and mentors who have been successful in their field.”

Currys PC World has partnered with Microsoft to look at some of the great female inventors, visionaries and trailblazers in history, and brought them to life as modern-day cape-wearing life-savers.

  • People like Stephanie Kwolek (1923 – 2014), who discovered the buttermilk-coloured yarn that we call Kevlar today; an invention has saved thousands of lives around the world.
  • Or Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958), who provided Crick and Watson with the missing piece needed to model the DNA helix.
  • Or Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), considered the creator of the world’s first computer program in the 1800s. Yes, the world’s first.
  • Or Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1999), who carefully sketched out a blueprint for the world’s first home surveillance system. Her patent has been used by inventors ever since.

All the superheroines have been drawn using a Microsoft Surface Pen on a Microsoft Surface Pro. Together, these tools mimic the art of drawing freehand.

The Pen is equipped with 4,096 pressure points, giving you confidence in every dot, line, sketch and stroke. You can even add shading by tilting the pen nib and applying pressure with its edges. An eraser gives you further freedom over the art you create.

Drawings are beautiful on the Surface Pro’s Quad HD display, which delivers stunning clarity, whether you’re evaluating your work or bringing it to life. Finally, the powerful 7th generation processor allows you to seamlessly switch between spur-of-the-moment doodles and full-scale artworks.

No matter whether you’re a budding artist, an established graphic designer or simply in need of a portable work machine, check out the Microsoft Surface range in full and shop everything from versatile all-rounders to high-end performance hybrids.

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