We need to show more girls science 'is for them', says teacher named among world’s top 50

Naomi Ackerman

A London teacher named as one of the top 50 in her profession in the world said more needs to be done to show girls that “science is for them”.

Emma Russo, a science teacher at all-girls South Hampstead High School, was among three Britons selected in the longlist for this year’s Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

Ms Russo was praised for her efforts to encourage more girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

She was also lauded for her teaching techniques, which include using virtual reality headsets in lessons and setting up Skype calls with global scientists.

The 29-year-old runs Girls In Physics, an event held every term at Highgate School, where girls from across London meet women working in physics and engineering. Only 10 per cent of engineers in the UK are women, according to the Women’s Engineering Society.

Ms Russo told the Standard that discussing gender parity would have a big impact. She added: “Girls achieve highly, and are interested in the subjects, but often do not think it is their arena. So exposing them to people who look like them, and sound like them, and come from the same background in STEM careers has a big impact.”

The winner of the award, who will be announced on Sunday at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, will receive a $1 million cash reward.

Ms Russo did not make the final 10 shortlist, but will attend the event to give a talk to global leaders and experts about breaking down barriers for women in STEM industries.