Chiara’s story

Chiara’s story

Women in STEM. Wow. Where to begin?

Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you for being featured amongst such inspiring and driven women. It is an honour to learn from and follow in these great footsteps.

We have a job of uttermost importance, together we must ‘normalise’ the interaction of both genders within the professional field. It can be easy to forget, how different the roles of participation would be, looking back only a few decades.

In retrospect, gender wasn’t a huge issue in my household – being raised by a single father allowed for an insight into the role our male counterparts adopt. Necessity taught us that, whether male or female, tasks must be completed regardless.

I believe the lack of gender-specific roles brought – as every situation does – positives and negatives. For example, I was somewhat unaware of the disparity between sexes and would not think twice about putting myself forward for a male-orientated position; revelling in the audaciousness of it at times. On the flipside, while travelling and studying in patriarchal societies, this ‘insolence’ – as it was viewed – could be extremely debilitating, resulting in overlooked opportunities.

Aside from equality and recognition, one aspect I feel extremely passionate about, is providing relevant and inspiring role-models for young females today. There is a resounding lack of intelligent, professional females from the scientific community, acknowledged in popular culture. We have a plethora of entertainers, models and fashionistas thrust into the limelight; why do we elevate others for good genes, alluring clothing choices or immaculately applied make-up? Why don’t we celebrate the efforts and achievements, many women have tirelessly worked and studied for?

My life’s goal

My journey, though always strongly nature or plant-based, has drawn from both male and female influences. I am as happy mixing up a blended plant oil for massage therapy, as I am breaking out the chainsaw to remove a diseased or non-native tree.  I have been lucky enough to participate in various nature-based teachings; western conservation, horticulture & aromatics; eastern holistic medical and lifestyle practices and am currently rounding all together by completing a BSc degree in Environmental Science. If I can open the mind of one, just one, individual to the wonder and importance of the plantae kingdom; or encourage one child to pursue a life in this field – I will have achieved my goal. We must all become or create the tendrils that reach out farther.

Personally, I feel studying and applying oneself is the most empowering decision a young adult can make. This path of knowledge and education should not be tainted by gender specific thoughts or fears. I look forward to a world where intelligence is as highly prized as youth or beauty.

Written by: Chiara Lucia

Tiffany’s story

Tiffany’s story

How did we end up here??…

Thinking about the decisions that had led me to this moment is a rather nostalgic affair. I wasn’t always destined to be academic, especially not in a STEM subject – during primary school I generally thrived in school, I became completely mystified when an experiment would provide accurate results, just like those that we read about in books. Secondary school was slightly different – becoming bored quickly the novelty wore off with the repetitive nature of copying off the board. I jumped straight into work at the first opportunity, working in customer service for some of the biggest names in the UK. A decade later, here we are, after realising my true passion is mathematics and solving problems – I chose to embark on the MEng degree with the Open University, choosing maths route (queue swooney music!!).

Hey, I love your transcript!

After starting with four generic Engineering modules with The Open University and gaining a CertHE, my confidence has rocketed, Elon Musk was calling me he was so jealous :-). Now midway through year two and the DipHE I’ve been able to choose my ‘route’, ahh beautiful mathematics – each week its becoming increasingly more challenging but the change can be seen in almost every aspect of life. For some odd reason, I am now much more orderly in everyday life, thinking methodically about almost everything from packing the fridge to cleaning my car. Postgraduate modules start next year, am I prepared NO not yet anyway!! But I’m excited at what they’ll bring.

Engineering for the win.

Everyone needs an engineer, every aspect of life requires engineering of some variety – its a real great problem solving qualification. There are no limits to what can be done with it, it gets my vote all day long. Having a general idea of the principles that govern how things interact (not humans, I’m pretty bad at that) and knowing what to expect when experiments are performed is really just inspiring in itself. I want to work hard over my career to break down some misconceptions around Engineering and what a day-to-day life is as an engineer, yes it’s quite complicated to learn but there is no time limit!

Challenges as a woman?

Only 11% of the current UK Engineering workforce is female, a truly staggering figure! It’s been an interesting transition from customer service positions into engineering positions. The most challenging mindset that I, as a woman in engineering encounters, is the assumption that I’m not capable simply because I’m female. It isn’t always obvious and crude, a draining aspect of it is to constantly have to convince someone that you are trustworthy and that your advice is correct. The  “ are you sure?” or “I don’t agree with you, let me talk to someone else” when I may have more relevant qualifications & this is my job to know – someone pays me to know this information. A message to other women in STEM – you’re not alone. A message to men in STEM – please only judge us on ability. 

Written by: Tiffany Roberts

Carbonfund.org- Carbon offsets and reductions

Carbonfund.org- Carbon offsets and reductions

There are genuinely inspiring and impressing companies and organisations out there. They stand up for something, they make a difference, and they shape our future.

It’s always good to see as small businesses outgrow themselves and emerge from the crowd. I respect them for what they do, essentially for not giving up, and using their knowledge to change the world. Thus here you will find a series of articles introducing some of them to you.

First of all, I am fairly certain you’ve heard of carbon footprint. We all did. Carbon has a dramatic impact on our environment, and inevitably the damage we are causing to this planet will be irreversible. There are tonnes of carbon footprint calculators on the internet, check it out, and allow yourself to be shocked for a moment or two.

Time for a change

Carbonfund.org is a non-profit organisation in the US, meaning they are primarily fighting climate change, not profiting from it. On their website it says that their motto is:

“Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.”

Ideally by now you’ve already thought of changing your habits. Maybe walking or cycling to work, eating less beef, supporting local farmers, or setting temperature control in your house. Ultimately you will realise there are certain things you cannot give up. So how else could you offset your carbon footprint?

Carbonfund.org provides you with several options. I really like the idea that they are planting a tree for you for as little as $1! If you want to plant 20 trees, donate them $20. Simple as…

Furthermore, you can also choose to just simply donate some money to them, and they promise you, that they will use your money to invest into projects that will provide CO2  reductions in the future. They have a Platinum Rating for Financial Transparency, and guarantee that you will always get detailed information about where your money goes.

They have various projects in the renewable energy, forestry and energy efficiency sector, and they are all very promising.

Find more of their projects here

No doubt that if you visit their website you will find plenty of gripping information about their business, and how they fight against global warming.

Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

Ever since I was a kid I knew I am just not good at this. All those numbers, equations, chemical formulas, and weird looking people inventing stuff. Well, this is what it meant for me, back then. Let’s be honest, it was a whole load of waffle, without any syrup.

Naturally I was interested in how the universe work around us, however as I couldn’t understand it, eventually I gave up, and admitted defeat. I’ve decided I’m done with this. I don’t care about Newton and his apple, let alone ionic and covalent bonds.

I really only needed a different angle to look at it from, and a different approach I guess. And that is why we are here, to provide you with that different angle.

I will prove it to you, that the world around us is mesmerising, the rules it works by are extraordinary, and that this miracle is waiting for you to discover through this adventure with me.

And to tell you a little bit about Beyond science, it is created to honour something much more powerful than me, you, or anyone else: this truly phenomenal universe.

There will be different sections of this blog for you to browse.

You will be able to learn science, whether it is physics, maths, geology, Earth science, chemistry or climate science. You can also read about companies that makes a difference, and truly worthy for your attention, because they stand up for something and their developments and innovations will shape the future as we know it.

The section possibly closest to my heart will be always written by guest authors. You will find posts written by women who works or studies in STEM. We will read about their stories, what they do, why they do it, and their challenges as a woman in this very competitive sector. I’m really looking forward to these articles, as there are some truly motivating and inspiring women who will share their thoughts with you.



Lavinia’s story

Lavinia’s story

It is 2019. I am studying engineering from the comfort of my home. Neither my intentions nor my abilities have been seriously questioned so far, at least not due to my gender.

A very different story from a century ago, when women studying science or engineering were only awarded certificates of completion instead of degrees. Because they were women.

I am perpetually baffled by the fact that this used to be a reality not that long ago. The MIT and the Ecole Polytechnique only started admitting female students in the lifetime of my parents! These are reputable institutions, pillars of science research and development, run by brilliant minds, yet not enlightened enough to see the absurdity of gender discrimination. Their open mind led them to exploring and discovering the fascinating world that we live in, yet they were not open minded enough to see that science and technology is not a man’s game. It is for all. Therefore, one doesn’t have to be open minded to see that women and men are just as capable and brave. One has to simply live in order to observe this.

I started my journey into engineering in 2017. I am a trained linguist and philologist, I have always loved languages and I draw great pleasure from translating. However, this never felt enough. Although dynamic and fascinating, languages do not seem to evolve with the same “boom” as science. While being inherent to us as humans, they did not provide me with a sense of leaving something behind.

It was logical to me that I had to go at the confluence of science, mathematics and technology and feast on the never-ending cascade of knowledge and discoveries. And here I am. Befriending a wild horse whose name used to scare me – Calculus. Playing with vectors and exponentially growing my arsenal of formulas and theorems. Putting my once poetic creativity to work, finding solutions with the help of science.

And it should be easy for me, as a woman of the 21st century. Many women before me paved what should be a smooth road, without the discrimination, without the complexes and without the downright mockery that they had to be subjected to.

I have occasionally sampled the ignorance of people when it comes to a woman “getting her hands dirty”, while working alongside my husband in his heating and plumbing business. It is puzzling that the source of this ignorance is generally other women.  Centuries of being cast into restrictive moulds have shaped the female consciousness in a way that is incongruent with reality. My belief is that this is where we have to concentrate our efforts, more than proving gender equality to men. Proving it to ourselves.

Yes, we are the sum of our ambitions and doubts, but these are two vectors with opposite directions. Our ambition must be to play a significant part in the positive changes taking place in the world. We must understand that all those things which are seen as disadvantages, are nothing but qualities that we put to good use every day as women and mothers.

I hope to be part of the last generation of women who doubt themselves, and my ultimate goal as an engineer is to inspire my children. I want my daughters to understand that they don’t have to choose between tiaras and building blocks. Go and build a bridge and feel beautiful while you’re doing it! Go and change the world in your pretty dress!

This is the impact that I am hoping to achieve and I am very optimistic for the future. I believe that all of us together can remove the last of the obstacles and empower the next generations of women to claim their place in the transformation of our world.