STEM Ambassador Stories - Amy Kidd

Issued: Sat, 01 Jun 2019 15:59:00 BST

Photo of Amy Kidd

Amy Kidd is a 19-year-old 2nd year Maths and Computer Science student at the University of Glasgow, she also currently works as part of the Software Engineer internship programme with JP Morgan. Amy previously completed a web development course by Code First: Girls, which aims to increase the number of women in the tech industry. Amy became a STEM Ambassador in February this year and has already done a couple of school visits, with big plans to promote female STEM education especially for Maths and Computer Science.

Amy has lived in the West of Scotland all her life and keeps it very close to her heart. Being brought up in Ayr and Cumnock, the University of Glasgow was her first choice to go to so she could keep that home town feeling in the West End even after she moved from home. Since she volunteers regularly at home, especially in the more deprived areas of Ayrshire, she knew quickly after moving that she wanted to do the same in Glasgow, and wanted to incorporate her passion for STEM within that.

She immediately put herself forward to become a STEM ambassador and signed myself to any activity where she was able to.
 

Why did you decide to become a STEM Ambassador?

As a female I recognise the under-representation that occurs in Maths and Computer Science. Although I do a Maths degree now, in school I was never pushed to pursue anything number or tech based and as a result most of my Highers were strictly essay based. I always felt that STEM was a boy subject and as such that girls didn’t take them. It wasn’t until my final year at school that I decided to try Computer Science after a friend convinced me to take it with them and I quickly realised my passion for programming and technology. I applied to do Maths at university and my love for the subject only increased from there.

I often wondered what would have happened if I was more driven to do mathematical subjects at school and why it didn’t seem an option for female students. I think about all the negative comments and experiences I have had at university as a woman in STEM and people questioning my ability in my degree. I decided to work to change these attitudes, so the young girls don’t have to go through the same experiences as me and to show them STEM does not have a gender. I think as well that Maths and Computer Science especially can be written off quite quickly as boring and hard by younger children, and I think putting a younger face to it like myself can break the stereotype of the old male professor in these types of subjects, and show them the fun and interesting side of Maths.

 

Which area of STEM are you most passionate about?

I find all areas of STEM fascinating, but I will always have love for Maths and Technology. We live in such an ever-changing world driven by tech which is a corner stone in every field of study, from important stuff like health and research, to fun things like computer games design and development. My love for programming comes from my school background where I studied a lot of languages like Spanish and French. In coding, I can combine numbers with the rules beside structure and grammar to create really amazing projects with can be integrated into any industry.

 

What is your favourite thing about being a STEM Ambassador?

I get such a satisfaction for my volunteering as a STEM ambassador and feel like I have actually made a difference in attitudes even from my first school visit. I think it is such a type unique volunteering where I can create my own activities around my own passion as well as work own ones planned by others. There’re loads of opportunities for my own further development as an ambassador. I feel as though I’m working as part of a team to achieve the same goal rather than a single volunteer working solely on a single project. I am extremely passion about STEM and creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone where otherwise it can be a very daunting career to pursue.

 

Describe your favourite or most memorable activity so far:

I loved my day at Greenmill Primary in Cumnock at their ‘Fun Maths Roadshow’. This is a Primary school that my Grandpa, Mum and all my cousin attended and is very close to my heart. At the end a young girl approached me and told me that she had been considering a career in Mechanics but hadn’t been sure as a girl if numbers and maths was her thing but after the day and my small speech I delivered she felt more comfortable with her decision to do engineering. This is one of the sole reason I was as driven to become a STEM ambassador as I don’t want young girl to experience the same neglect of talent as I had at their age. I haven't met a girl in Maths and Computer Science yet that hasn’t experienced some kind of doubt or questioning from others and themselves as a woman in STEM, but I also believe that from these experiences we have a responsibility to empower others. After my first school visit, I came away feeling like a STEM role model to someone and even if it will only be one person it's made this whole experience worth it.

 

What STEM Ambassador activities do you have planned for the future?

Over this summer when I’m back home in Ayr, I have set up a wee group of girls currently in secondary school and we are going to work together with the plan that they will achieve their Silver CREST Award before school starts again in August. They all have hope to do STEM degrees at university and I hope to help this dream along. I would also like to say if anyone is needing any volunteers for Glasgow based group from September please contact Science Connects and they can pass that email to me so I can help with any projects.

 

What advice would you give to new STEM Ambassadors?

To get stuck in and don’t let nerves hold you back. Sign up to everything and think about areas that you might feel are lacking opportunities and work out what you could do to change this. There’s such an amazing team of people around you as passionate about STEM that will do anything to help you achieve your goals as an ambassador.