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Kate Stedman

Kate is a Year 13 student at Riccarton High School in Christchurch. She is still deciding on her career but is considering studying science, engineering or law at university.

Kate StedmanWhat do you do on an average work day?

I wake up and go to school, where I attempt to spend my time studying hard but inevitably get distracted by friends. I have awesome friends. I stay at the library after school to do most of my study.

Sometimes I cook for my family in the evenings, but on a good day I like to go outside and spend some time in the beautiful Halswell Quarry Park near my house.

What are you studying at high school?

The subjects I'm taking are calculus, biology, chemistry, physics and drama. 

Are your studies related to what you do now or what you want to do as a career?

As a wise man once told me, it doesn't matter what you're studying now because chances are you'll end up doing something totally unrelated but just as awesome with your life anyway. I try to think about that if I start to get worried about whether my studies will lead to the rewarding career I want.

If I had to choose now, I'd like to work at the UN or in government to bring the benefits of science to as many people as possible. That's why I'm considering studying science, engineering or law at university. 

What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?

To be honest, I'm in the same boat. The indecision boat. I have an idea of what I want to do with my life, but there are still so many possible paths I could take. So I don't think I'm really qualified to give advice, but I'll give it anyway:

Look out for interesting opportunities that may or may not be related to what you want to do. Those experiences will help you decide what really suits you best.

And talk to people! Talk to as many people as you can. I like to ask literally every adult or uni student that I come across to talk about their studies and experiences. They always eventually say something useful or relevant to me. 

Kate in her gardenWhat are some of your career highlights so far?

I'm really proud of the work I've done with the Environment committee this year. Earlier this year we painted a mural, which will be our legacy at the school. We recently organized a fair where students lined up for the chance to sponge a teacher!

I've also been involved with drama and had an amazing opportunity to act in the Christchurch Summer Shakespeare this year.

Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?

Just one example: vaccine-preventable diseases are reemerging because sometimes the public does not understand really basic science.

People working in STEM, gathering data, doing experiments and stuff, are the backbone of modern society.

It’s really important to engage in STEM research and developments to understand what is going on in the world; stuff like how climate change affects us or what we can do to lower our chances of getting sick.

That’s why I think science communicators who make it their job to engage with the public are so important.

Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?

There are lots of reasons. I think equal representation is important across all careers.

Generally speaking, it's intimidating for talented people to enter any field if it seems dominated by the other gender. As a girl interested in science and engineering, I know I would feel a little less out of place if I walked into an engineering lecture that had equal female and male representation.

It's also difficult for me to find mentors and role models of my gender, whom I think are vital to making young people feel like they belong in a field.

It would be so wonderful to live in a society where no person's dream job or interests is shrouded in stereotypes.

Kate in her garden

Kate is a Year 13 student at Riccarton High School in Christchurch. She is still deciding on her career but is considering studying science, engineering or law at university.

Read the Stuff.co.nz story about Kate being selected by the Royal Society Te Apārangi to travel to an Australasian science camp.

This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.

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