Anne-Marie Imafidon is co-founder of Stemettes – an award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of females into science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles via a series of events and opportunities. Her rather unique set of achievements includes: Passing two GCSEs aged ten (Mathematics & ICT); Holding the current World Record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level Computing (aged 11); and at age 20 becoming one of the youngest people to be awarded a Masters’ degree in Mathematics and Computer Science by the University of Oxford. Anne-Marie sits on the boards of Redfield Asset Management, Urban Development Music Foundation and Inspirational YOU.
“…mentors often get to expand their network as they work towards the mentee’s objectives. They also get a great feel-good feeling from helping the mentee and satisfaction as they see them grow. Finally, it’s a great way for a mentor to remind themselves why they do what they do…”
Co-founding Stemettes – from volunteer organisation to social enterprise
I’ve always worked in technology roles and, whilst working on a previous project, was sent to the U.S. to speak at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing about social technology. While there I heard about the lack of women in technology and felt inspired to do something here in the UK. After a couple months of blogging and research I decided to take action – free, fun, food events for girls to meet women in industry.
We run all sorts of STEM-inspired events for girls and young women up and down the country. The response has been amazing – much more than I ever thought. So we’ve grown from a volunteer organisation to a social enterprise with a full time team of six. We partner with companies in the industry who want to do something about the problem. We also partner with similar social enterprises and charities who have the same aims as us.
It’s important because all girls should have the possibilities of becoming a Stemette open to them. Wherever they live, their STEM knowledge is greatly needed. All over the world, too.
Call to action: Mentors needed!
We run a mentoring programme called Student to Stemette for girls aged 15 and over. They get matched at a speed networking style ‘matching event’ to a woman in industry, and the sherpa (the mentor) and sherpee (the mentee) then work together over the course of four months.
During this time, each pair meets for eight hours in total (either via Skype or in person) and, as part of this time allocation, the sherpa hosts a one hour face-to-face catch-up at their work place. At the end of the four months, sherpas and sherpees attend a graduation ceremony – which also gives sherpas a chance to network between themselves.
In particular, it would be amazing if your readers could get in touch with us if they’d like to be sherpas. Alternatively, we’re also looking for companies who would like to offer one of our sherpees a day of work experience during the school holidays. Anyone who’d like more information can contact our Sherpa Stemette, Yasmin, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Benefits for mentor as well as mentee
The mentors often get to expand their network as they work towards the mentee’s objectives. They also get a great feel-good feeling from helping the mentee and satisfaction as they see them grow. Finally, it’s a great way for a mentor to remind themselves why they do what they do…
I have lots of mentors and have received all manner of advice over the years. The one that I now live by: Seek forgiveness not permission. If I’d have sought permission to start Stemettes, I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Coming up for Stemettes
We have an app, OtotheB, coming out this year, which will enable us to reach more girls and stay up-to-date with the 6,000 girls that have attended our events so far. The purpose of the app is to provide a global online platform for girls interested in STEM and entrepreneurship. Also, Outbox Incubator 2016 is happening (a programme of seed funding, intensive mentoring and ongoing support to help girls launch innovative businesses in the STEM sector) – we’re working towards running a cohort in Kenya in 2017.