To celebrate International Day of Women & Girls in Science, Adele Blignaut, Clinical Nutrition Account Manager, shares her story about her passion for science and how she is inspiring the next generation as a volunteer with STEM Learning
Q: Can you briefly outline your educational background?
Adele: I loved studying biology at secondary school. I was always interested in learning about diseases, and how the science of nutrition affects our health. I initially thought of studying food technology but decided I didn’t want a lab-based career. I’m very much a people person so after exploring other course options, I completed a 3-year BSc Dietetics degree at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, followed by a 1-year post graduate diploma to qualify as a Dietitian.
Science isn’t just about working in a lab – it can be creating new recipes, developing new food products, research in clinical nutrition or working in hospitals as part of a multidisciplinary team helping sick patients to get well again. Dietetics is a varied and rewarding profession with many different areas to work in. Additionally, working in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry shows how diverse your career can be.
Q: You are a volunteer with STEM Learning in the UK, an organisation that provides opportunities to see STEM careers in real life. Why did you get involved?
Adele: I was introduced to the STEM Ambassador programme through Baxter. It’s a transformational programme helping young people from all backgrounds explore STEM. Unconscious bias leads us to think only men can work in a science career. As a STEM ambassador, I am challenging young people’s stereotypes about women working in science. I have a chance to have a positive impact on young people lives by sharing my passion and motivating them about the career possibilities in science.
Q: What advice would you pass along to women and girls who are thinking about a career in STEM?
Adele: Start early, talk to people, explore career options and get work experience. Find the little part of the STEM subject you enjoy and discover the jobs you can do with those interests. Your desire will grow with determination and enthusiasm to be the next girl in science.