A former Royal Navy engineer, a science toy and an entrepreneur using technology to help GPs pick up early signs of cancer were among winners at this year’s WISE Awards, which recognised the outstanding contributions of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The annual awards, which have been organised by WISE since 2012, aim to shine a light on women working in STEM occupations in the UK.
Although more women work in science and engineering than ever before – numbers have increased by more than 61,000 in the past 12 months and 230,000 in the past five years – Trudy Norris-Grey, WISE chair and Microsoft managing director, wants to see that figure vastly increase.
During the award ceremony, Norris-Grey said: “We have a real problem, but it is one we can solve. The question for business is – what more can you do to attract and retain women in technical roles? Tonight’s awards show what can be achieved by business leaders who put sustained and strategic effort into attracting and retaining women.
“With a big push, we could get a million women working in STEM by 2020.”
The WISE award winners include:
WISE Toy Award – The Curiosity Box
The inaugural WISE Toy Award went to The Curiosity Box, a fun experiment kit for 6 to 11-year-olds that brings science and technology to life. Judges included young children and their parents who felt this toy would inspire their daughters to study STEM subjects.
WISE World Award – Dr Asel Sartbaeva
Asel Sartbaeva received the WISE World Award for her pioneering technology allowing vaccines to be stored and transported without refrigeration – saving lives in parts of the world without electricity.
WISE Technology & Engineering in Health Award – Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi
Bhavagaya Bakshi received this award for her app C the Signs, which combines AI and the latest evidence to provide GPs with a tool to identify cancer early, giving a decision within 30 seconds. It can search the warning signs of 200 types of cancer at the press of a button.
WISE Woman in Industry Award – Amelia Gould
Amelia Gould, Head of Engineering at BAE Systems, leads a team of 650 responsible for the safety and security of engineering on naval combat ships. “I truly believe I am helping to make this country safer, and that inspires me”, said Gould, who wants to launch a “Recruit one more” campaign with WISE, urging every female engineer in the country to find a woman they can encourage to pursue a career in STEM as a way of doubling the number.
WISE One to Watch Award – Amy Mercer
Amy Mercer, higher laboratory student at pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Sandwich, won the award for a trailblazing woman under 21 who will light a fire under the next generation. She was recognised for her work as a trained STEM ambassador and her passion for inspiring young children especially at primary school age when the interest develops in STEM.
WISE Man Award – Terry Sandham
Following on from last year’s first ever ‘WISE Man of the Year’ award, Terry Sandham of GSK won the accolade this year for achieving 30% female engineering apprentices against the national average of 8%.
WISE Employer Award – AVEVA
Software engineering firm Aveva has achieved above industry numbers of women across the business – from a 50/50 gender split in this year’s graduate intake, to 24% of women on the executive team.
WISE Apprenticeship Programme Award -Troup Bywater + Anders
Engineering partnership Troup Bywaters + Anders won this award for having doubled the number of female apprentices to 20%.
WISE Talent Award – Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics was honoured with the WISE Talent Award for their guidance on tackling gender stereotypes in schools, which pilot schools have used to more than treble the number of girls taking AS Level physics over two years.
WISE Tech Innovation Award – Dr Anne Adams
Anne Adams, Co-investigator (Digital Engagement), and her team from The Open University were awarded the WISE Tech Innovation prize for their work using storytelling and interactive games to improve STEM learning for women.
Of the winners, WISE chair and Microsoft managing director Trudy Norris-Grey went on to say, “Our winners show how women are solving some of the world’s most critical health and social issues using science and technology. I hope they will inspire more girls to follow STEM careers because we need more like them – females are our biggest pool of untapped talent.
“But technology also means younger generations expect work to look different. For those of us in big corporates, we need to think again about how we attract and retain bright talent. We have to transform culture if we want to see women at all levels, including the boardroom. This will only happen if industry leaders are active and vocal champions – as demonstrated by our winning companies tonight.”