6 Jul 2015

Women in STEM: Florence O.

Celebrating and promoting women in STEM (particularly engineering) is one of the main reasons I started blogging. By attending various STEM and networking events I have the opportunity to meet such great women. 

My first ever feature and collaboration is with an amazing young, talented woman in STEM: Florence. Here is a little insight into her life, career and passions...

Name: Florence Okoye

Industry: Mobile UX/Developer

Job: I'm part of the Mobile development capability at National Grid

Coolest thing about your career: 
I'm not sure if it's very cool, but the best thing about my job is when I get to travel around and meet engineers who work in the field. It's nice knowing you're part of something that is important and not just about making money. Also you get a better understanding of how the grid works and the enormous effort that goes in to making sure the lights stay on! UX is perfect for anal retentives like me - you get handed a knotty problem with lots of interfacing systems and processes and gradually tease out a solution. I could do it all day!

How did you get to where you are now: 
I studied Physics at University but I got into coding through a couple of C++ modules. It was mostly for data modelling and analysis so not very exciting to most people but I thought it was awesome. When I left Uni, I got into web and front end development as I realised it's a good way to reach out and connect with people, especially as I'm really into citizen science, open data and increasing academic accessibility. I was accepted onto an IT training program and was introduced to app development which is how I got the job at National Grid. As it happened, I started working more on the UX side which is what I do by day. By night I develop hybrid and native apps and play around with new frameworks. It's mostly for my own research - I love history and Physics (and dinosaurs...), so most of my projects are developing tools to contribute in some small way.

People that inspire you: 
I tend to admire very practical, 'prickly' women - I was practically raised by a brigade of old ladies and they have a very no-nonsense attitude to life which helps. In terms of people I can name, Athene Donald is a Physicist who I find inspiring in lots of different ways. Diana Wynne Jones was one of my favourite writers and had a wonderful philosophy about life and vocation which comes across in her writing and always inspires me. Chimamanda Adichie is another writer I admire, not just because she's an Igbo woman in the public sphere, but she's very wise and encourages me to just be honest to myself.

Word of encouragement to young women who want to have a career in STEM: 
In a few quick statements, I would say:
1) Don't worry about it.
2) Just about everyone else is bluffing (and the ones who aren't tend to be really nice anyway so don't hesitate to ask questions).
3) Get your hands messy, its fine to make mistakes.
4) Meet cool people and say yes to as many things as possible without exhausting yourself.

You can find Florence online: 

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