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Young women and non-binary UTC students expand their horizons with STEM careers and apprenticeships event at Amazon HQ

Young women and non-binary UTC students were given an in-depth look into the potential for science, technology, engineering and maths careers and apprenticeships during an event with online shopping leader Amazon last week.

One hundred and twenty-four students from 17 University Technical Colleges came to Amazon’s London head office on Wednesday 28 June to listen to speakers from across industry, politics and education.

This included climate scientist and green entrepreneur Juliet Davenport OBE and head of products and services delivery at WISE, Katherine Watson.

Baroness Morris addressing the female and non-binary students

‘We want to make sure there are good quality choices’

The event was kicked off by Baker Dearing trustee Baroness Morris, who congratulated the students for attending and putting themselves in new environments to meet new people. The former education secretary also explained how the trust and UTCs are helping students decide how to follow a STEM pathway.

“When you come to leave school, you can go to university or you can do an apprenticeship but you don’t have to. In academic areas, there’s always been those choices, and we want to make sure there are good quality choices right the way through for STEM,” Baroness Morris told attendees.

Amazon’s global director for reliability maintenance engineering Rachel Cooke then took the stage to share her career journey, through the top of industry and volunteering at the 2012 Paralympics onto Amazon, where she works on areas including robotics, reliability programs, and machine learning.

“The challenges you face as a woman are different. The opportunities are also different. If I wasn’t a woman, I would probably have chosen a different career path. But in the end, I chose this one and I think you get opportunities to do stuff for other women,” she told the audience.

Amazon’s Rachel Cooke addressing the event

Students challenged to consider their strengths

The students then took part in four workshops to help them understand both their strengths and potential in STEM careers and apprenticeships.

Juliet Davenport led a session on green skills, sharing examples of how government and industry had introduced environmental goals into their work. Juliet also challenged the students to consider their own attributes and think how organisations can help act on climate change.

Juliet Davenport speaking to students in her workshop

Baker Dearing’s director of learning and innovation Kate Ambrosi led a workshop asking the students for their experiences at UTCs, including their worries about joining in the first place. The students were asked for ideas on how to overcome those worries so the programme can attract more female and non-binary students.

Katherine Watson, on behalf of the network WISE that seeks to encourage more women into STEM, led a session titled ‘My Skills, My Life’. This helped the students understand their strengths and realise what kind of thinker they are. The session was delivered alongside the Founding 20 board of women and non-binary UTC students, and Baker Dearing’s UTC projects coordinator Amy Sutcliffe.

Students were also able to view different Amazon machines that are used in their processes, as part of a separate workshop on the day.

UTC students give the Amazon event the thumbs up