Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Scientists in the U.K.

The traditionally male-dominated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are often synonymous with the oil and gas industry, requiring the robust application of these disciplines from the early phases of exploration to the final stages of decommissioning. Introducing girls and young women to the innovative wonder of the STEM world has long been the mission of TechFest, a Scotland-based nonprofit dedicated to providing quality STEM events throughout the country. In celebration of International Women in Science Day, an event was hosted at Apache offices in Aberdeen, gathering approximately 130 school children — most of them girls from surrounding areas — to tinker with makeshift robots, hear from STEM professionals and meet fellow students with similar passions.

“We were honored to host this event and know that many of the questions faced today by the energy industry could possibly be answered by the aspiring young scientists who joined us at Apache,” said Jillian Owen, U.K. country manager. “Our industry requires exceptional talent of all backgrounds, and we believe the next generation plays an important role in navigating current and future energy challenges.”

The two keynote speakers were Alison McLure, head of Institute of Physics Scotland and Sinead Farrington, professor of experimental particle physics at the University of Edinburgh. Several Apache volunteers were on site to support the event and share their experiences working at the company.

“It was lovely to see the enthusiasm of the children who attended the event,” said Abbie H., process engineer and Apache volunteer. “They had great knowledge and were keen to ask lots of questions. They all wanted to know more about what subjects I studied and what being an engineer involves.”

Although the number of women in STEM fields has increased in recent years, there is still room for growth. Engaging with younger generations at an earlier age is one strategy TechFest has employed, hosting numerous events throughout the Northeast of Scotland and partnering with companies supporting efforts to expand STEM education.

“The opportunity to be inspired by some of the people that they’ve met today is an invaluable experience for our young people,” said Sarah Chew, TechFest managing director. “We are deeply grateful to Apache for providing this real-world space for our students to visit as they engage with topics that can positively impact their future careers.”