Starting university is pretty daunting, especially when you’re going into a subject where you know you’ll be in the minority. However, well done you for taking those first brave steps into studying a SET subject! You’re going to do just fine.
If you’re still feeling a tad nervous, here are some handy hints to get you through the first few weeks:
- Don’t be daunted if you’re the only woman on your course. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of testosterone in the room at first, but the nerves will pass and things will get better, I promise! You won’t receive any special treatment, nor will you be singled out or ignored; you’ll be seen as just another student and soon enough you’ll forget that you’re the only one with two X chromosomes.
- If your university has a group or network for women SET students, get involved as soon as you can. As well has having a welcoming network for people in the same position as you, it’s a great opportunity to meet other women in your school or faculty and you will meet a lot of strong people from both academic and professional backgrounds. If you’re a Scottish student, Interconnect can point you in the right direction. If you’re studying at Edinburgh Napier University, I’m the Student Champion for our group, Connect, so please do get in touch if you’d like to join us. I wrote a blog post about networking a while back, which you may enjoy reading.
- There are loads of events for women in SET going on all the time. Get yourself over to Eventbrite, a wonderful resource for finding out what’s going on in your area. Many of these events are free, but if some require money your university may be able to help you with funding or even a free ticket. Don’t be afraid to apply for events or conferences – a lot of students don’t be cause they think they won’t be successful, but how do you know if you never try? I can highly recommend Target Jobs’s IT’s Not Just For The Boys!; this year they’re holding two events in London, so why not apply for both dates and see what happens?
- Don’t alienate yourself by staying away from the guys. You’ll find most of them to be very welcoming, plus you’ll have new friends to bounce ideas off. If you are unlucky enough to run into the type of guy who likes to make jokes about sandwiches and kitchens,
kick him inna forkjust smile and walk away. Alternatively, ask him why he hasn’t made you a sandwich – sorts like that don’t like the taste of their own medicine and will learn to leave you alone. You may even find your newly-found male friends sticking up for you.
- Lastly, you are a woman in SET and everyone salutes you. We need more women and it’s fantastic that you’ve made it into your chosen subject, so let the bad stuff wash over you and focus on the positives. University is a wonderful experience, so enjoy your studies, make the most of student life and celebrate your inner geek!
If there’s anything you’d like to add or ask me about on this topic, feel free to drop me a line.