Dr. Leah Ridgway
Lecturer in Electrical Engineering and Electronics
University of Liverpool, UK
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was a 4 year-old girl who knew what an axle was! I’ve always been fascinated by why things work and love the buzz when you understand that why. Now my job is to inspire and help student engineers understand the world around us and teach them the tools they need to solve the world’s problems.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I’m keen on finding new ways to use technology to support the learning of a diverse student group. I did a series of videos to support my lectures for students to watch in their own time. I had no idea if it would be successful and I had to get over hearing the sound of my own voice! The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive; they liked studying at a time which suited them and it stimulated discussions about the content outside of class.
You may laugh, but my role model growing up was a fictional character: Jadzia Dax from Star Trek DS9! She’s a strong female character with an analytical mind and has an incredibly sex-positive attitude.
Part of the reason I don’t have a role model is that I don’t think there were many notable people who I felt I could relate to in any way, thankfully I think this is changing.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because it’s interesting. No two days are the same and there are always new problems to be solved. There’s a lot of creativity involved which I don’t think most people realise until they talk to us.
Advice for future STEMinists?
I wish someone had told me that you don’t have to give up being feminine to succeed in a male dominated industry and don’t let anyone try and bully you into it (sometimes women are just as bad as men for this). I describe myself as a glamorous tomboy in a dress!
I’m absolutely addicted to Twitter. It’s my personalised window into what’s happening in the world around me where I can hear things apart from the mainstream news. I’d also be lost without Dropbox which I use to easily sync files across multiple devices.