Dhavinia talked to us about her aspirations for a career in STEM and why she’s so passionate about encouraging more young girls to get involved with this industry.
Can you tell us about how you first became interested in STEM subjects?
My work ethic and commitment for learning became a journey through my interests in STEM subjects, especially Computer Science! With a passion for programming and ‘behind the scenes’ of a computer, it was no doubt that this was something which I wanted to pursue. My introduction to formal Computer Science began in Year 7 with block coding. I instantly found building programs interesting. I enjoy working through algorithms and this makes me feel intrigued to discover what Computer Science entails. I am captivated how AI is becoming beneficial creating a safer world and how Affective Computing is used within Robotics. As well as Computer Science I realised that I found my passion for STEM in many of my other subjects such as Science!
What area of STEM are you most interested in and why?
Definitely Computer Science! Technology has always been extremely fascinating to me since I was quite young. Once I began my studies in Computer Science, I completely fell in love with it. The things that interests me the most is how technology is developing so fast and I find it so cool and interactive ; from robots to autonomous cars to 5G, you just don’t know what is going to be the next thing!
There is a lot of research to show that there are less girls interested in STEM subjects at school, why do you think that is?
From an early age there were many gender biases which would push young women away from STEM. When buying presents for younger children, I noted there was a clear distinction between toys aimed at girls and toys aimed at boys. The girls’ toys were aimed at cooking, childcare, and beauty, whereas those aimed at boys were build things, engineering, race cars, or even chemistry sets. So, even before entering the school system, young children have this inbuilt gender biased when it comes to certain subjects and interests.
How can we encourage more girls to get involved with STEM?
Having more role models come into Schools/Colleges doing talks and perhaps sharing their journey would inspire them! The Digital Her Roadshows have been fantastic with events and giving a real eyeopener to what its like being a Woman in STEM.
Also, by having more adverts and more campaigns that Girls Can Code! Perhaps it’s time to change the idea of a ‘Hacker’ being a male and start having more girls feature in STEM roles in Films/Series.
What are your future aspirations in STEM?
My dream is to become the Computer Scientist who creates the Technology of Tomorrow!
Can you tell us about some inspirational women working in STEM that you look up to / any role models in that industry?
So many people have influenced me throughout my journey in STEM. Emma Grant has to be the person who I look up to! I remember meeting Emma for the first time at the Tameside Hack (where my tech journey really began!) She is definitely someone who has encouraged me and gave me amazing opportunities, including my role as a Digital Her Role Model! Thank you Emma
Also, during my time at College my Computer Science teacher Mrs J Mohammed (ex-Loreto College Teacher) has been extremely inspiring to look up to! From the help and support to all the advice Mrs J Mohmmed shows that we as women in STEM can thrive and be successful! Thank you
Do you have any recommended reading or resources for young people, particularly girls, who are keen to learn more about STEM?
There are some Films and Series to consider watching to give you that boost! E.g. Hidden Figures.
Try and go to events (or online events in the case of COVID!) such as CoderDojo’s, Hackathons, Code clubs in school/college. Also, there are many free websites where you can learn how to code (https://code.org/ is a good place to start!) and all you need is to put your effort in, it may get hard sometimes but believe me – it’s worth it!
If there any advice or words you’d like to say to young girls who feel like STEM subjects aren’t accessible for them?
STEM is everywhere and the world we live in is thriving with tech! Even a traffic light uses STEM and by investing some time into research you will be on your stride.
As we start the new term you must ensure that you go into your subjects positively! Who says you can’t “be positive like a proton!” ha-ha
One thing that I have learnt along the way is that you must believe in yourself and have confidence to put yourself out there, it may be scary, but I know that it’s worth it!
I want you to put yourselves out of your comfort zone and be bold! Aim high, believe in yourselves, you are capable of absolutely anything!
Anything else you’d like to add?
There is a lack of women in STEM subjects and there is a great gender imbalance however, our generation will succeed and bring the gender stereotype to an end. As women I believe that we can bring more, and we are able to show our different perspective. Positivity is the way to success, and anything is possible with a positive mindset! I feel proud to represent that ‘us girls can code’ and as a Digital Her Role Model it encourages me even more to keep striving and motivates me. We have the ability to do absolutely anything we desire!
My journey in tech evolved and without all the support and having a ‘Growth-Mindset’ I don’t know where I would be! You need to have that inner motivation in you and sometimes you may not succeed but having that determination and persistence you will succeed! STEM subjects are often given the label of ‘hard’ subjects, but honestly if you find your passion nothing will stop you!
If you have a dream, pursue it! If you have a passion, own it! if you have a goal, aim for it! After all, “She turned her cants into cans and her dreams into plans”