Interviews - Dr Jo Montgomery

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

do STEM?

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

STEM community?

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

ones Argon.

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

lasagne, though.

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! :)

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