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‘Try Science and Engineering’ – a comment from Professor Judy Raper

In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we asked TEDI-London’s Dean and CEO about her journey as a woman in STEM…

‘Don’t study Chemical Engineering, Judy, it’s too difficult,’ my brother’s best friend said to me back when I was trying to decide what to study at university.

My father was an accountant, my mother was a dressmaker and my siblings were at university studying astronomy and architecture. I enjoyed STEM subjects, but I had little personal experience of engineering and no role model to look to. It was ultimately those words – ‘don’t do it, it’s too difficult’ – that egged me on.

As an engineering student I was always taught to believe that ‘engineers are both the jack of all trades and the master of them all.’ While I do think that studying and being an engineer certainly equips you with the ability to create, solve and achieve limitless things, I have come to value and appreciate the contribution people from different disciplines make to solving problems. The complexity of today’s global challenges require input and perspective from such a wide range of thinkers – as engineers we must embrace this.

This is what attracted me to the role of CEO and Dean of TEDI-London. At TEDI-London we are developing an innovative curriculum in collaboration with a diverse group of industry partners and academics; incorporating design thinking, leadership, communication, financial management and economics, as well as the social sciences, ethics and philosophy. By designing the curriculum in this way we hope to attract and equip a more diverse group of students, who will, with their mix of experience, technical and design training, social awareness and professional skills, truly be able to tackle global challenges.

On International Women and Girls in Science Day, I want to say to the young girls who are right now thinking about what to study — try science and engineering. Yes, they are are complex subjects to study, but in doing so you will have an incredible opportunity to be creative and develop exceptional abilities to problem solve. At TEDI-London, we will equip you with all these skills, and the professional, social and digital skills you need to give you a springboard to being whatever you want to be in the future.

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