Hello, again STEMinists! The amount of support has been just incredible! Today’s interview is by Dr Jo Montgomery, a qualified teacher and research scientist with more than 20 years experience developing and delivering fun and engaging curriculum-relevant, hands-on science workshops in schools, for groups and supporting teachers to develop science teaching and learning. Inspiring the next generation of scientists! She gave us a great insight into the STEM world as a woman and we hope you can learn just as much as we did from her!
Cellfie: When did you first realize you wanted to
Jo: I’ve always been interested in science and the natural world,
and curious about how things work! Even as a very young child,
I spent much of my time outside collecting bugs, exploring the
texture of mud and making potions. This interest grew as I
studied. When I was at school, there wasn’t much practical
science at primary school, although we did learn about famous
scientists and their discoveries. Thankfully, there are so many
more opportunities for investigations today. I didn’t know
exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up (I’m still exploring
that!), but I did know that I was really interested in science, and
biology in particular. I thought about studying medicine and
veterinary medicine but decided I wanted to study more
broadly. I studied Biology, Chemistry, French and Latin at A
level in the UK and went on to study Biology and Biochemistry
at University. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew
that I wanted to keep finding things out. I loved research
projects and decided to pursue a PhD in Neurobiology. Since
then I’ve had amazing opportunities and experiences in science
– as an academic research scientist, working in the
pharmaceutical industry and teaching. I am passionate about
science and love sharing that enthusiasm.
Cellfie: Wow, those ALevels are seriously impressive! @ScienceSoph wants to become a doctor and 2 members of our team are taking Latin for GCSE! Neurobiology sounds absolutely fascinating! Definitely something we are now inspied to do a blog about! :)
Who were your role models growing up?
Jo: I have definitely carved my own path, but I loved watching
David Attenborough documentaries and Tomorrow’s World on
TV. I have found role models throughout school and my career
in encouraging teachers, colleagues and employers and think
we can always learn from others.
Cellfie: David Attenborough had been a common one! We think it is so amazing how he has touched the lives of so many and inspired them to go into STEM! A friend of one of our team members had his old room at Cambridge University.
Did you ever want to do anything else?
Jo: I’ve been fortunate to have had lots of opportunities and to
have done lots of different things, although they’ve all been
linked to science. It’s not the only thing, though, and I’m also
interested in languages, art, travel and food. I don’t think we
have to constrain ourselves to one box!
Cellfie: We definitely agree with you there! Our team have hobbies ranging from music to dancing to horseriding to drama! Why should we have to focus on just one area?
Have you ever had any setbacks or been
told you are a girl so cannot do tech?
Jo: When I was growing up, there was a big push in women’s rights
and equality and I was fortunate to grow up in a liberal, a supportive family where I never considered that there was anything that I couldn’t do because of my gender. Striving to
catch up with my big brother also developed these skills. I’m
not sure that things have moved on, greatly, for some people
unfortunately and we do still need to push ourselves to be best
we can be.
Cellfie: That's so good to hear! Society has definitely made progress but we still have a lot further to go to get diversity in STEM.
What’s one thing you’d like to change
about the STEM community?
Jo: I actually think the STEM community is really supportive. I’ve
always worked with people who lift me up. I love that there’s
always something new to learn.
Cellfie: Amazing, we are so happy you have had people to cheer you on! We have found that the women in science community have been so supportive in regards to Cellfie and we have been overwhelmed by the interest in doing interviews with us!
Is there a problem with sexism in the
Jo: My experience hasn’t seen any overt sexism in the STEM
community, but there are potential choices that we need to
make. I have changed my career because I made the choice to
have a family and look after them. It would have been difficult
for me to stay in academic research at the time, but there are
more opportunities these days for flexible working.
Cellfie: That is something we are so passionate about. Why should women have to either have the career they want or a family? More should be put in place to facilitate both!
What’s your message for young girls wanting to do STEM?
Jo: Just do it! Follow your interests and passions and grab
Cellfie: That Nike quote seems to be one that is very popular in the STEM community! Passion should be the driving factor in any decision you make in regards to your career!
What is your favourite science joke?
Jo: I tried to think of a joke about noble gases, but all the good
Cellfie: Argon is actually @ScienceSoph's favourite element! I know that is a bit sad but it's true! Love the joke! :)
What is your most embarrassing moment in your life?
Jo: I’m always doing silly things and frequently fall over!
Cellfie: Clumsiness is a big problem our team face!
What is your favourite food?
Jo: I love all different kinds of food! I’m particularly fond of a good
Cellfie: Lasange is the all time best meal in my opinion! My mum's homemade lasange with breadcrumbs on top is flawless!
What is your favourite shop?
Jo: I love stationery and science kit but don’t have a favourite
Cellfie: We love stationary too! We were in the finals for the Big Bang Competition and all won a £20 Amazon voucher. @tweetree4 spent hers on a set of pens!
Thanks again for reading! This is the fourth interview in our #WomenInSTEM series and we have thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr Jo's responses! Make sure to get active on our social media which is @cellfiemagazine on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Follow and check out all of Dr Jo's social medias which are listed below. See all you Steminists next time! :)