Blog post by Sprint participant Lauren Page BEng Electronic Engineering
As an electronic engineering student I am acutely aware of the gender imbalance within each room I walk into. With females comprising around 15% of my degree cohort, we are in fact above the national average of 13%- a figure that does not accurately represent the number of talented women who have the potential to excel within this industry. The problems that I’ve encountered are often common to many other women; feeling out of our depth or being less encouraged to be bold. However, this was not something I had to settle for or accept. During my time at university, I became aware that what was holding me back was not only the preconceptions of others based on my gender, but also my opinions of myself. In February, I made the decision to participate in the Sprint programme to break down the obstacles I was setting myself.
The Sprint programme is a development programme for female undergraduate students, comprising four workshops focussing on topics like identifying personal strengths and assertiveness. We performed tasks in groups, sharing our own voice and learning how to truly listen to and support others. Personally, the most valuable part of the programme was the opportunity to hear from female speakers about their lives and careers, and to find someone who could answer the personal questions I never felt I could ask. Inspiring and often emotional, the diversity of voices was important too- from mentoring and education to engineering and gaming, it presented perspectives that changed the way I viewed my future. It also led to other amazing opportunities, enabling me to meet new role models and inspirational women.
One direct consequence of this was the opportunity to attend the London Games Festival: Women In event on Friday the 7th of April. Hosted by Tracey McGarrigan, CEO of Ansible PR and Games Aid Trustee, it featured panellists from Gram Games, King and the BBC offering their own insights and advice about being a woman in gaming, science and creative industries. I was inspired by the work these women had done to overcome stigma and stereotype, pursuing what they loved and believed in to achieve their full capability. It echoed the sentiment from the speakers we’d had in the Sprint workshops, and was a pivotal moment in my self-realisation that it was okay to be raw and unpolished at the start of my career! I had the skills to develop myself and learn, and seizing opportunities and asking for help was what would make me into a successful woman like those I met at this event.
Participation in the Sprint programme has been so much more than I could have hoped for and an experience I will remember for years to come. The confidence, self-belief and bravery it has inspired in not only myself, but the wonderful group of women who I went through the scheme with, is testament to the untapped potential of so many women, who simply need encouragement and support to show them how capable they truly are.