The University of Southampton

STEM roller derby showcases inspirational female and non-binary scientists

Published: 19 March 2020
(l-r) Dr Sadie Jones, Joy Richardson and Jessica Stead prepare for the STEM roller derby.

Roller derby athletes from the University of Southampton encouraged young people to explore science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers in an inspirational STEMroller contest.

Dozens of female and non-binary pupils watched STEM role models compete in two combative games and then quizzed the players in speed networking sessions at the event in High Wycombe.

Physics and Astronomy's Dr Sadie Jones, nicknamed 'Shady Supernova', battled alongside Ocean and Earth Sciences 'Knitphomaniac' Jessica Stead for the Space Jammers.

Human Factors Engineering's Joy Richardson, known as 'JoyStixx', and biomedical scientist Kelly Wall also supported the event as referees and officials.

Roller derby is a contact sport where teams of skaters support or thwart 'jammers' as they attempt to lap opposing teams. Sadie is a member of the Portsmouth Roller Wenches, while Joy and Jessica play for the Southampton City Rollers.

"I love that I get to meet so many strong, fearless women in this sport," Sadie says. "Roller derby is amazing and I've totally fallen in love with it. I've made so many female friends and, because it's incredibly inclusive, people of all shapes and sizes can play and everyone can contribute."

Sadie is a key member of her School's Women's Physics Network and helped Physics and Astronomy secure an Athena SWAN Silver Award and Institute of Physics Juno Champion status for its commitment to tackling gender inequality.

"It's important to have STEM career events like this so young females and non-binary people are able to see that there are so many people like them who working in such a wide variety of STEM careers, and that they are often in jobs you would never think of, or never knew existed." Sadie says.

"I had loads of great questions from the young people I spoke to about my role as an Astronomy Outreach Leader. There was a lot of interest in my favourite parts of the job and what qualifications are needed for the work."

STEMroller included over 70 players and officials from more than 30 STEM industries. Four of the players have represented their countries in the Roller Derby World Cup.

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