Team CHSwift – Using Power to Empower

As a company we are passionate about promoting STEM with a particular focus on promoting STEM to the next generation. So when team CHSwift from Cheadle Hulme School, one of our local schools, contacted us regarding sponsorship for their entry into the F1 in Schools challenge we were more than happy to help! Through their entry into the competition, they are striving for ‘equality in sport’ and hoping to empower more females into a career in STEM.

The F1 in Schools challenge is an international STEM challenge in which teams of 9-to-19 year olds design, analyse, manufacture, test, and race miniature compressed air powered Formula One cars made from an F1 model block. They then compete in local, national and international competitions to race their cars, present their portfolios and pitch their team ethos.

For a better insight into the team we spoke to the team and asked them some in-depth questions. Continue reading to find out more…

To understand the team and the roles they play we asked them to tell us more about what they do and their responsibilities.

Cameron

Cameron

Sponsorship & Marketing Manager

I am the Sponsorship & Marketing Manager, tasked with finding and then developing vital relationships with leading companies, such as Techwuman, who mirror our team values and ambitions for the competition, and are also keen to support young innovation

Thom

Thom

Team Manager

I am the Team Manager- I help to coordinate and organise all the tasks, keeping everyone involved and informed. I also regularly help with the engineering side of things, as it is my job to ensure that all the race cars are ready for the competition.

Grace

Grace

Manufacturing Engineer

My official role is Manufacturing Engineer which entails working on the car, and ensuring that all of the requirements are met. However, I also have lots of involvement in the sponsorship and promotion of our project, being the main advocate for us to use this opportunity to promote women in STEM and motorsport.

George

George

Design Engineer

My role in the team is the Design Engineer so I have been tasked with designing the car in sketches, then remaking these using CAD software for testing purposes.

Olivia

Olivia

Graphic Design Manager

I am the Graphic Design Manager; hence am responsible for producing the colour schemes of our car, together with the final graphic renderings and designing any marketing materials required by the team.

Tom

Tom

Finance Manager

I am the Finance Manager, so I organise all the budget and resources needed for designing and making our car and help with any related team project work.

It was great to hear the variety of roles they have included within the team, and even better to hear they have two females within the team.

After speaking to the team, it was clear they all are hugely passionate about F1 and this was the biggest reason for them wanting to take part in the challenge. It was nice to hear Olivia and Thom mention the fact that the project met with their “long term goal of promoting women in STEM” and that the team “were committed to meeting their Women in STEM aim”. With this is mind we wanted to hear their opinions on equal opportunities for different genders in STEM industries. It was really nice to hear the views of six, first year 6th form students:

Grace

Grace

Manufacturing Engineer

I do not feel there are currently equal opportunities for men and women in the industry but I do believe it is improving. Personally, my STEM A level classes & pathway have very few girls in them.

George

George

Design Engineer

There are by no means equal opportunities for men and women in the engineering industry, however hearing about the experiences of the inspiring women we have spoken to during our journey has given our team the impression that circumstances regarding equality are slowly on the rise. Our team wants to be a part of reinforcing this change. Specifically, I think girls should be encouraged from a young age to pursue hobbies and interests that, traditionally, they may not have done.

Tom

Tom

Finance Manager

I believe that opportunities are partially equal, however also acknowledge that once in the workplace it is much harder for women to succeed than men. I believe that there needs to be a change of mindset for big companies in the future, and the perception of engineering being a ‘male’ career needs to be reversed.

Thom

Thom

Team Manager

I don’t believe that there are equal opportunities for men and women in STEM. Although it is by no means impossible for women to do the same things as men, the fact they have to work harder to achieve the same level of success in this field is unfair and undermining of their capabilities. I believe that there should be the same effort required for both men and women to get into a STEM career, and that we need to see more change in the coming years to work towards this. There is also a lack of encouragement and involvement at a younger age, as girls aren’t typically directed towards STEM careers.

Cameron

Cameron

Sponsorship & Marketing Manager

I believe that opportunities are by no means equal, and although progress is being made this is not enough. I remember watching rapper Dave’s performance of his single ‘Black’ at the 2019 Brit awards and noting the lyric “It’s working twice as hard as the people you know you’re better than, ‘Cause you need to do double what they do just to level with them.’ Although this obviously tackles a completely different and unrelated form of discrimination, I feel that the lyrics are still relevant to the context of women in STEM and engineering. Personally, I think it’s an embarrassment to society that we still live in a world where gender injustice is prevalent through issues such as the gender pay gap and that pre-conceived attitudes such as unconscious bias still remain. The fact that a female STEM student will feel the constant need to ‘prove her worth’ amongst male colleagues and ‘defy expectations’ is indicative of how far we still need to work towards equality, and hopefully our team can play a small role towards achieving this change.

Olivia

Olivia

Graphic Design Manager

I believe that women who want to pursue a career in STEM are put at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts, whether this is discrimination, harassment, or other forms of male maltreatment. I believe that many men just find it easy to say that there are equal opportunities for women just because they don’t see verbal abuse being thrown at us on a daily basis, but what some people are unaware of is what women had to go through in order to be taken seriously, and we are still having to make up for men thinking that women are intellectually inferior to them.

Their answers to this question were both powerful and insightful, reinforcing the need for more work to be done to keep promoting STEM subjects to females with a particular focus to diminish the stigma around roles in STEM at a young age.

With this in mind we asked the team what they have learnt from the competition so far and what role they wished to pursue in the future. From their answers it was clear the challenge has been of enormous help to them, with Grace learning about turbulent and laminate air flow, George getting to grips with CAD software to design the car, Thom improving his communication skills, Cameron understanding the importance of teamwork and both Olivia and Tom discovering the challenges faced by females in STEM. It was nice to hear they all had a good idea about which jobs they wished to follow, with Cameron, George, Grace and Thom all wanting to move into a role in engineering. George explained that his involvement in the team has affirmed his desire to work in the automotive industry. Olivia has also decided on her chosen career, and wants to pursue a career in biomedical research. Tom is undecided about his future career choice, but thinks a role in finance would be more suited to his skills. The competition has helped him to gain an understanding of some industries which he feels will benefit him in the future.

Hearing how passionate the team were about their future careers was hugely motivating and incredibly exciting for STEM as a whole.

We asked a couple more questions from the two girls in the team to find out how they feel about the STEM industry and who inspires them…

Are you nervous/worried about pursuing a career in a STEM industry?

Olivia

Olivia

Graphic Design Manager

I am not discouraged to pursue a career in the STEM industry as I believe it is important to challenge what is perceived as the norm just because we allow it to be, when in reality it isn’t inclusive of everyone. Ultimately, it’s very likely that both Grace and I will experience discrimination in our future careers, but as Ella Podmore (Young female engineer of the year) said during our Zoom meeting together “there will be a spotlight on you [due to being female in a predominantly male field] but let it motivate you, not discourage you.”

Grace

Grace

Manufacturing Engineer

I am not nervous about pursuing a STEM career as I want to be a role model and show people that women can do it too. I am not fazed by being the only women in the room and think it can give me an advantage and extra benefit to my career as I am showing others it is possible.

Who are your role models in the STEM industry?

Grace

Grace

Manufacturing Engineer

My biggest role model is Roma Agrawal who was one of the structural engineers who worked on the Shard. I have had the pleasure of speaking to her; she had an incredibly resilient story which was very inspiring.

Olivia

Olivia

Graphic Design Manager

There are multiple female STEM role models that I admire and look up to. Even within our school community, it is very unlikely to have a head of department that is female, especially in the sciences. I believe the thing I look up to the most isn’t just one female, but instead the female community within STEM and the way we motivate and encourage one another.

The interview with the CHSwift team was very insightful and has helped us to understand the thoughts and feelings of future engineers!

To find out how team CHSwift get on in the F1 in schools challenge please keep up to date with their twitter and check out team CHSwift on Instagram.

"At the moment, it is a male dominated sport and that does need to change."

-- Lewis Hamilton, Seven-time F1 Champion

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