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Manchester High School for Girls


Last night, students at Manchester High who want to turn their love of science into a successful career gathered in the Zochonis Lecture Theatre to hear from two members of the MHSG alumnae community who have done just that.

As part of our “Insight Into…” series, Rada Ramsay and Dr Sarah Clapham, both from the Class of 1996, took time out of their busy schedules to return to School and share their journeys since leaving Grangethorpe Road.

The “Insight Into…” series is also open to parents, who are actively encouraged to accompany their daughters, as well as students at neighbouring schools and colleges.

Rada Ramsay graduated with a master’s degree in Chemistry from The University of Edinburgh and is now a Consumer Scientist at Unilever, the company behind household brands such as Dove, Lynx and Tresemme. Rada discussed how science supports the business to make effective marketing claims and meet its sales targets. She also confirmed that there is indeed an official job sniffing armpits as part of deodorant testing!

Dr Sarah Clapham’s educational path was originally similar to Rada’s and she secured a PhD in Chemistry. However, her chosen career is completely different. Sarah is now a UN advisor in her role as an arms control and non-proliferation technical advisor at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), part of the UK Ministry of Defence.

Sarah’s work ranges from education support on the destruction of chemical weapons in Iraq to advising the Foreign Secretary on the current issues in Libya and Syria.

While both women stressed the importance of continuing to deepen their subject knowledge to remain an expert in their field, they also spoke about the need to have great people skills and be able to effectively communicate with others in the workplace who may not have a scientific background.

Our speakers concluded by explaining how they had each benefitted from industry experience during their studies. Working in a chemistry laboratory during her GCSE’s helped Rada make career decisions down the line, while Sarah’s PhD included a two month summer placement at Ciba Spécialités Chimiques in France. During the question and answer segment of the evening, both of our guests told of the fantastic apprenticeship opportunities available at both Unilever and the MoD.

Mrs Norton, Director of Sixth Form Studies at MHSG, commented:

“We buck the national trend here when it comes to girls studying STEM subjects; our girls need no persuasion to study them and wish to continue doing so at university and beyond.

“While courses such as Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science are always going to be popular we wanted to use this ‘Insight Into…’ evening to show our scientists that there are other routes to consider. There really are a wealth of career options out there for budding scientists.”