Estelle Rowe, National Director of Headstart and First Edition for leadingeducation charity EDT, was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Year Honours List. The award recognises the impact of Estelle’s career in engineering education during which she has energetically tackled false perceptions of engineering and science. By her personal example and effort she has helped thousands of young people to view technical careers in a new light and helped companies to realise the importance of the development of the future workforce.
Throughout her career Estelle has had particular impact in seeking to address gender balance in technical industries. At university she was the first female chair of the Cambridge University Industrial Society and has been an active member of the Women’s Engineering Society for over 20 years, taking a leading voluntary role in the development of the activities of the Verena Holmes Lecture Fund.
Since becoming Director of Headstart (engineering residential summer schools for 16 to 17 year olds), Estelle has established Insight, an all female Headstart course. Under her guidance, the proportion of girls attending all Headstart courses has increased to 34%; a remarkable figure when it is considered that many university engineering courses have less than 10% female participants. Estelle has also introduced 3-day courses for 15 to 16 year old girls called Inspire, which helps them prepare for STEM A-levels.
Estelle’s gender diversity work for EDT was a major contributor to the charity being awarded the Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) Award for Diversity, presented to EDT by Princess Anne in 2013.
Dr Gordon Mizner, Chief Executive of EDT is delighted by Estelle’s honour; “Estelle is by nature a pioneer, blazing a trail for women’s role in engineering and science when it was far from the hot topic that it is today. EDT is lucky to have such an enthusiastic advocate within our ranks and we will continue to pursue her goal of encouraging ever increasing proportions of girls into technical careers.”
Estelle says, “Being recognised in this way is humbling and I hope that it will in some small way help encourage girls to look to careers in engineering and science. It is these industries that are going to provide the engine for growth for the UK over coming decades and I hope that by inspiring girls into these jobs we can ensure that there is a plentiful supply of highly qualified recruits to enable the UK engineering and science sectors to thrive.”
Previous to this, Estelle played a significant role in the development of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education activities in the West Midlands as Regional Director of ‘The Year in Industry’. Before that, she spent five years encouraging students to be entrepreneurial by running ‘Young Enterprise in Birmingham’, tripling the number of schools and young people taking part, including inner city and special needs schools.