Aleesha is a chemical engineering graduate who has immersed herself in a multitude of different passions. From making YouTube videos so she can spread awareness of diversity in the STEM field to designing her own activewear line, she has a lot on her plate. But that doesn’t stop her from continuing to develop her skillset and brand. She is now launching WeSpeak, a mentorship resource for disadvantaged girls in the US/UK. Read more to hear about Aleesha’s incredible work!
How did you decide your major, and how did you become interested in advocating for women in STEM?
I chose chemical engineering because I was natural interested and curious about STEM subjects and I always wanted to go into something STEM related, however I did not know exactly what to do. This girl in my class was considering going into chem eng, which then made me look into it and it seemed really good because it covered a lot of different topics.
I began advocating women in STEM after one day when I was revising maths and I always use YouTube tutorials for this, however I began to notice that the people teaching were one gender and race, this motivated me into teaching my own maths videos online and making YouTube tutorials. Also, I always thought that engineering was a “boys” subject, when in fact it is not. There are a lot of stereotypes that have been subjected on to girls at an age as young as 6 years old. That’s why I made it my mission to shed light on important issues.
If you could change anything about your university education to better prepare yourself for life as a post-graduate, what would it be?
I think it’s just knowing what your interests are within that field and letting that lead the way when looking for a future role. A lot of degrees have a lot of different things that you can go and specialise into, it’s your job to experiment and see what your strengths are and go from there. Also, it doesn’t matter if the first job you land isn’t what you hoped to be, every experience has something you can learn from and take away from so take it as a learning experience.
What current issue do you think is important to highlight to bring awareness toward women in STEM?
It’s important to get younger girls to be curious about STEM subjects from a young age. A 2017 study showed that only 13% of the overall STEM workforce in the UK is female. Negative perceptions females have about STEM actually start as young as 6 years old, so this really needs to change. Companies can collaborate with schools to have discovery programmes for female students that allow them to explore their potential, curiosity and passion for innovation. By creating these different and interesting experiences for girls where they can explore technology in an interactive and insightful way, such as workshops in robotics, mechanics and coding. It is possible to give them practical knowledge and understanding of the impact that they can have being part of innovative projects.
For female students who are looking for internships or full-time positions, how can We Speak be a resource for them?
We Speak is an online mentoring programme that connects professionals from the UK/ USA to disadvantaged girls. Volunteering at WeSpeak is not only for females but anyone interested in helping girls reach their full potential and giving them a head start. From programme strategy to creating pieces for the website there’s a wide range of things to get involved in, it’s just a matter of interest.
Please feel free to share anything else!
A lot of my spare time is dedicated in helping eliminate gender inequality. This can be through making informative videos, to Energise Activewear, an activewear brand with the aim of helping more women get active and highlighting the importance of fitness. To my Instagram page where I try and spread knowledge on various science topics and showcase women in science. One of the biggest things in life I have learned is that you can do more than one thing and you can have other passions outside of work, and sometimes it’s useful to be creative and branch out.
Check out @aleeshaspeaks on Instagram and "Aleesha Speaks" on Youtube, and make sure to look into the @wespeakgirl mentoring program and Energise Activewear!