Here at Shona, we love when we get to meet someone who is stepping outside of what the world considers “the norm”. It’s so interesting to have the opportunity to chat with women who are doing cool, unusual, and interesting jobs. So, we were only delighted when our friends at UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics and UCD School of Computer Science introduced us to their new project ‘Role Models in pSTEM: You can be what you can see’.

The ‘Role Models in pSTEM: You can be what you can see’ project was created to highlight contemporary, positive role models for young women in the subjects of physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. The project hopes to make more young women aware of the very many career paths and opportunities available to them by pursuing these subjects. Following the UNESCO framework of factors influencing girls’ and women’s participation in STEM, the interviews explore the backgrounds and influences of each of the role models and highlight what they enjoy about what they do. The project was designed by Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Dr Catherine Mooney, who work in the fields of mathematics and computer science, and was funded by the HEA and Institute of Physics.

So, we are delighted to introduce you to some incredible role models over the next couple of weeks. Today, we have Anu Bode-Favours who is a final year Computer Science with Data Science student at UCD.


Question 1: Could you tell us what you do and What drew you to the Computer Science with data science course at UCD?

I am a 20-year-old final year Computer Science with Data Science student studying at UCD. In third year, I chose the data science stream which means most of my work is data science related which I really enjoy.

My mum really drew me to this role. She encouraged me to put down computer science after medicine on my CAO list as I was unsure of what I would want to study if I didn’t get medicine.


Question 2: Were you drawn into studying STEM subjects in Secondary school?

I was always drawn to STEM subjects such as maths and biology, but I never saw or even thought of computer science as an option throughout the majority of my secondary school experience.


Question 3: Were there any particular difficulties or challenges you had to overcome regarding your study or work?

I found at the beginning of my course as I am sure many other women may have experienced imposter syndrome, and this wasn’t helped by the male condescension faced. I believe with time it has definitely improved but in first year some comments made were quite discouraging and made me feel out of place. I think all the different workshops for women in computer science really helped as they constantly reminded us that we are deserving of our place. Also being mentored and talking to other women in stem, now working in industry, helped me overcome this period. Getting to see women in this field and excelling really reminded me that I am needed and deserving to be in this field.


Question 4: What do you wish someone would have told you when you were younger?

I wish I had known how many career options there are when going into STEM. I think growing up we were told about careers such as medicine, law, etc. but other very valid options are neglected. This means that students may not know how many options they have if they study science. I feel lucky to have studied computer science as I know I have so many options in my future career.

Also, as a woman in step I think being reminded that we are wanted, needed and deserving. Especially in computer science, which is a male-dominated field, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and for imposter syndrome to kick in. I wish someone would have reminded me that I earned my position there and I was just as worthy as anyone else there.

Being a black woman and in STEM is a big part of my experience. The percentage of black people in STEM is so small. I would love to see many more black women in tech spaces in the future, knowing they belong there, and that their presence is needed.


So, we don’t know about you, but we definitely would love to hear more about Anu and her studies. Sure you know us at this stage, of course, we have you covered!

Check out the video below, courtesy of Anu and our friends at UCD College of Science.


More videos and resources are available at: https://www.ucd.ie/mathstat/rolemodelsinpstem/


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