gender equality

Superheroes in training & the magic in STEM


Meg PanozzoApr 12, 2019

There is magic in science, technology, engineering, and in maths. We call it STEM.

SuperDaughter brought it to life. Across six cities, WORK180 showed hundreds of early age school girls what this is. We showed them that they can be STEM superheroes.

It had been a lot of work to pull it together; just the day in Sydney had about 30 volunteers all told. It’s easy to get lost in logistics, but when the day came, walking around my office where we were hosting it and helping to put the finishing touches on displays, I remembered our purpose. That purpose was coming to life: to break down the barriers in STEM vocations so that it’s just as easy for a girl as it is for a boy to be a scientist or mathematician or coder or engineer or anything.

Fast forward: mid-afternoon, the second event. About 80 girls were completely engaged, giggling and excited. They wanted to touch and learn and play. They wanted to create. They wanted to feel the magic of what was in front of them. The energy was palpable.

I talk often about the need for diversity, something else that can consume us and leave us lost in the complexities of it. But SuperDaughter Day reminded me to take a step back and to take notice of the seemingly small things. The small pieces of joy that pieced together lead to something large. For each person this may be something different, but for me, that joy was the support of some of the most senior people in Arup Sydney.

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Mark Adams, the Transport and Resources Sector leader for Arup NSW, (my boss’s boss, if you will), brought his 2-year old, Grace, and his 5-year old, Lily. That afternoon, Mark and I weren’t highways engineer and principal - we were two people with a shared passion to create a world where Grace and Lily can be whatever they want to be.

This event, on a personal level, let me share with Mark the joy of seeing how excited Grace was by the activities. It reminded me, again, of just how human-centred our work is. We need to remember that everything we do has people at the heart of it. And when we do, the impact we can have will be amplified. We can leverage it, build on it, and every single one of us can be a part of it.

A week after the event, Mark told me that Lily (aka super girl, pictured), wanted a science toy for her birthday. Our goal was achieved.

To hear stories like this, to know we’ve impacted even one life - and here we have impacted many - is the reason why it is so important to give back to the world and to aim to leave it a better place than we found it.


About the author

Meg Panozzo

Meg Panozzo is an engineer at Arup. She is also the founder of Arup's ConnectSTEM program , author of the blog Her Bold Universe and volunteered at SuperDaughter Day in Sydney. Learn more about Arup here.


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