My school didn't allow girls to choose three sciences at GCSE as it was deemed too challenging. The boys across the road could. Luckily for me I had an extremely supportive mother who marched up to the nuns in charge and told them that I would be taking three sciences. In hindsight I realise how lucky I was. My mother was a successful business woman and a fantastic role model.
I took physics, maths and biology at A-level. I came top of the year in physics and my grade A at Physics A-level is still one of my greatest achievements to date!
I went on to study Engineering at Nottingham University, a degree choice that I know armed me with all the skills to start my own technology business which I set up while on maternity with my first son in 2003. I'm now mum to three boys aged 11, 9 and 4. I doubt whether they will come up against barriers when choosing their educational options, and I hope that girls these days won't either. But my concern is that the statistics show that there are still not enough girls making science and technology higher educational choices.
As a technology entrepreneur I often find myself at conferences where I am one of only a handful of women among hundreds of men - there’s never a queue for the ladies at a technology conference! But when will this change? How do we somehow increase the talent pool of women in technology? I believe we must do this, not just because I know it’s a great industry to be in, but because the UK economy will suffer if this under representation of women in these sectors continues.
In India, China and Japan there is far stronger focus on science and technology in education across both sexes. We've only got to look to at these burgeoning economies, where there is a stronger cultural science and technology focus and corresponding better gender representation, to realise something will need to change here in the UK if we want to remain competitive on the global stage.
We must work to dispel the bad image STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, maths) still have (geeks, nerds, white coats, hard hats) that put young girls off choosing science and tech at GCSE, A-level and above. We must create role models and mentors who girls will aspire to be like. Right now it’s usually a model, a pop star, an actress - why not a science or technology entrepreneur?
Every one of us can think of a person we wanted to be like when we were young. For me it was Martha Lane Fox running a dot com tech start-up, getting rich and being on the cover of magazines. How cool was that!
One of the wonderful things about the technology sector I work in is that everyone is judged on their own merits without a thought given to gender, race or age. This is nothing like the young, male 'City' culture and I’m proud to be part of it! It’s a wonderful sector to work in and if more young girls knew that we'd eventually see more women in top technology jobs, contributing to our economy and influencing the next generation.
I therefore find myself with not only the opportunity, but the duty to inspire and influence young girls to consider science and technology career choices. That’s why I’m a big supporter of the WISE campaign, why I spend so much of my time as a STEM ambassador visiting schools to tell girls that technology is awesome, and why I’m supporting BCS’ campaign.
Cary is the CEO and Founder of Mydeo.com. She graduated with an honours degree in Manufacturing Engineering from The University of Nottingham.
Cary launched Mydeo in 2005 following a DTI Research and Development grant for Technical Innovation. Mydeo was the first and only European hosting service to be fully integrated into Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker software. Mydeo provides high-quality streaming video and content delivery services to thousands of individuals and businesses around the world.
In October 2007 Mydeo announced investment from Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics retailer in the US. Mydeo won a commendation in the ‘Best Streaming Service’ category at the UK Internet Service Provider awards for four years running and was named a Red Herring Europe 100 finalist.
Cary was awarded the inaugural Iris Award at the NatWest Everywoman Awards in recognition of her business success through effective implementation and use of IT and Communications. She was named UKRC Woman of Outstanding Achievement 2011 winner for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and was the Breakthrough Pioneer award winner in Red Magazine’s Hot Women Awards 2011.
Cary regularly speaks at events as a STEM ambassador about her passion for getting more girls interested in science and technology, knowing that enthusiastic role models can change lives. Cary is a Board Member of Cancer Research’s ‘Women of Influence’ campaign - Influential businesswomen coming together to help beat cancer by supporting world class women in science.
Cary is mum to three boys.