(Or, as they called it, “High Tea with BP”. )
Here I am yet again, finding reasons not to be revising – today I went down to London for an event organised by BP. (In my defence, I did do half a past paper on the train on the way there…) This was an all-female event where we basically got to hang out in a swanky London hotel and eat lots of cake. So, despite cries of “female privilege!” from certain friends of mine – which by the way is a totally valid concern that I will come on to shortly – I made my way there.
Here is a super fancy bathroom selfie to document my attempt to dress appropriately:
The aim of this event was to provide support and career coaching for young women entering the STEM fields – “STEM”, for those not up on their acronyms, stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths”. The STEM fields are notorious for their gender bias, as indicated by this recent hiring study. BP are no different. So, I think it’s pretty good not only to see one of the biggest STEM recruiters recognising the issue, but actually taking some positive action. In my opinion, the current state of the industry more than justifies this kind of event.
First off, the venue: wow. I don’t go down to London often, but when I do, I always seem to be visiting somewhere intimidatingly posh. Last time, it was for my industry year interview with Roche, which was held at the Royal Society of Chemistry headquarters in Burlington House. This place is practically opposite the Ritz, and it’s a truly beautiful building. Today I had to seek out the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Knightsbridge (seriously? Knightsbridge? The tube at 8:45 on a weekday morning is Not A Fun Place To Be.). The place made up for the journey though – whoever was responsible for the interior design seemed to be of the attitude, “Can we get a chandelier on that surface? Great!” It’s not somewhere I would have had the opportunity to visit otherwise, and it was certainly an experience.
The day itself was nicely put together, with talks, workshops, and plenty of opportunities for networking. One of the highlights for me was a talk from Dr Suzanne Doyle-Morris, an expert on gender inequality in the workplace. This is a lady with bags of charisma, who had some interesting thoughts on why STEM careers still has such a gender bias. Everyone was given a copy of her book, Beyond the Boys Club, to take home. I found myself reading it on the train back to Birmingham whilst sat at a table with three middle-aged men in suits. Apt.
One of the other highlights for me was getting to meet to many lovely people! I’m lucky enough that there isn’t really any gender bias on my course, but until today I hadn’t really realised how unusual this was; Many of the women there came from courses where female students are much more a of a minority. Regardless, it was great to have a positive environment to discuss issues facing early career women in STEM fields.
Now, I can’t round up this post without mentioning the food. This day may have left me enlightened as to a few things, but one of the major points I will be taking away is just how great macaroons are. Why didn’t anyone tell me??
Were you there, or have you been to anything like this? What do you think about women-only events like this one? Let me know in the comments!