From a very young age, Anne-Marie was always a maths and tech enthusiast. As a kid, she loved taking apart objects to see how they worked. With the support of her amazing parents and teachers, Anne-Marie graduated high-school in the UK at 1, and from a master’s degree at Oxford University at 20!
Today, she runs her own organization, Stemettes, which encourages young girls, women and non-binary people to have fun with tech. She’s also often on TV, she gives motivational talks and has written many books – including one for kids called “How to Be a Maths Whiz”.
What a busy lady! Let’s get to know her better.
Hey Anne-Marie. Why do you have so many jobs?
You don’t have to choose one thing when you grow up, you can do lots of different things and have fun with it.
What’s your favourite part of your work?
I get to work with children a lot, I get to see cool and exciting things that adults haven’t figured out. My favourite thing is being at our Stemette events because you get to build things, and create apps, animations, roller coasters, designs. Young people are so smart! It’s always cool to learn from them.
You accomplished so many hard things when you were still a teen. What would you tell a kid who is as ambitious as you?
Anything is possible. When you decide to try something, there’ll be lots of things that won’t go right, and lots of things that do go right. It can be really hard, but the thought that something might not go the way you wanted should never stop you.
You can say: OK, cool, there are some things I didn’t get right this time. Do I try again? Do I try something different? There’s always something in there for you to learn.
Awesome! And what would you tell their parents?
Don’t let your fears colour what your children’s experiences might be.This is not just about learning for them. Technology is not going anywhere, so go on a journey with your young person.
I am also so grateful my father didn’t kill me when I took apart the VCR player! (an old device to play movies). They were really expensive. But he realised I was trying to learn and explore, and he indulged that curiosity. There were very few rules in my house. It can’t have been easy for my parents. But I am so fortunate that they were so supportive.
What did your teachers think of you?
At school, I reached a point where I was really, really bored and would often end up being a nuisance. And rather than my teachers saying, “She’s got problems, let’s suspend her”, they actually looked for extra things for me to do.
Many of the subjects that you love are considered “boy stuff”. What would you say to a kid who is interested but feels like they don’t belong in STEAM?
If you enjoy it, you have to remember that you matter. Your experience, your background, your love, your interests, the things you dislike, the things that make you unique are all important. And there will be other people who have bits of overlap, and you can talk about it.
At the moment, the adults have been doing science by just pretending that everyone is the same. That’s not how the world works. For example, our medicine is almost always tested on men aged 20 to 40 and doesn’t work as well for other people. So it’s really important that we have your voice reflected in science to make sure that medicine works for people just like you.
In the movies, on TV, in school, on posters, it looks like you need to be a dead, white man with a beard to be a great scientist. But there’s lots of people who are really, really important to science that don’t have any of those characteristics. So not why come and join us and be a part of solving problems?
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You can join all of the Stemettes events for free at stemettes.org