10 Things You Should Know About…Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was an African-American STEM pioneer who played a key role in the success of the first manned moon landing.

“(The other women) didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.” – Katherine Johnson

  1. Katherine was born in 1918 in West Virginia, USA
  2. When she was only 18 years old Katherine graduated from university, she studied Mathematics and French
  3. She got a job at NASA in the 1950’s as a ‘computer’ – back when people not machines computed difficult mathematical calculations
  4. She worked on flight paths for space missions, successfully calculating the launch window for the 1961 manned mission to Mercury
  5. Katherine did most of the calculations for the path of the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969 – where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to walk on the Moon’s surface
  6. Over the years her calculations and work have helped many astronauts visit space and return safely 
  7. Katherine authored and co-authored 26 scientific papers and she also helped write the first textbook about space travel
  8. In 2015 Barack Obama presented her with the presidential medal of freedom – the USA’s highest civilian honour
  9. The 2016 film’Hidden Figures’ was based on Katherine’s story – she was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson
  10. Katherine died in February 2020 – at the age of 101

You can find out more about Katherine’s incredible life here and we definitely recommend the film ‘Hidden Figures’ which is available to rent or buy here.

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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How We Became 2 Sisters Working In STEM

So how did we become 2 Sisters In STEM?

What paths did we take to get where we are today?

We thought a good way to kick off our blog would be to do a proper introduction and tell you a bit about ourselves. The journeys we have followed from school, through A Levels, to further study, working in industry and ultimately starting this blog! Hope you enjoy!


Hi! I’m Lily the slightly older and less ginger sister, I am 23 and live in the East of England. I am currently working in STEM as a Technology Graduate at BT, I joined BT in September 2019 and am absolutely loving it so far.

I have always been curious and liked solving problems, my poor mum bore the brunt of this when I was little and gave me puzzle books to keep me busy! And I’m so glad she did, as my love for puzzles helped me through years of school maths and science. All leading to me deciding to study Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Further Maths at A Level.

As I worked through my A Levels, spending more time studying fewer subjects I came to realise the majority of my interest and passion was for physics. I was really intrigued by all the questions that physicists still don’t have the answers for and the vastness of what I could learn about, from black holes to sub atomic particles.

I decided to apply to do a degree in Physics at University and I secured a place at the University of Bristol. I had a brilliant 3 years, there were times when I loved it and there were times when it was extremely difficult. But I learnt so much and loved living in Bristol a new, big, exciting city and it offered me lots of opportunities to see what I might like to do after I graduated.

After uni I did a lot of job hunting and a fair bit of soul searching and secured a job as a Science and Maths Facilitator at an EdTech (education technology) company. It allowed me to explore two of my biggest passions STEM communication and problem solving. I helped create innovative educational resources and worked on all stages of the product development process. From thinking up new ideas to testing them out in schools with young people and then fine tuning till we had a brilliant product. It was really rewarding and I learnt a lot!

I loved working on innovative solutions to problems and I decided I wanted to work in industry to explore and expand my skill set. So I set about applying for jobs in the technology sector and was lucky enough to be offered one at BT on the Technology Graduate scheme. I am currently on my first of 3 rotations and am really enjoying it so far! I have already learnt so much about the telecommunications industry and developed lots of technical skills and knowledge and I cannot wait for whatever opportunities lie ahead!


Hi I’m Maisie, the younger and more ginger sister! I am 21 and currently doing an internship at Boeing Defence UK and working as a Logistical Support Engineer with Chinooks – so lots of helicopter data!

When I was younger I always enjoyed problem solving and building things – the classic Lego cliche applies here! My dad always tells me of the time when I was very little and I beat him in a game of dominoes. I must have always liked numbers… or maybe I’ve just been super competitive since birth.

I think I knew I wanted to go into engineering from about the age of 14, a few people I knew had done the Arkwright Scholarship (an award that encourages young leaders into engineering) and my mum encouraged me to apply for it. Amazingly I got offered it and was sponsored by Rolls Royce! This meant I was able to do work experience at Rolls Royce and I found out all about the different engineering disciplines.

I always loved making things and getting hands on experience when learning. This led me to study Product Design at GCSE and onto A Level. I always looked forward to those lessons, being able to come up with an idea and make it with your own hands is an amazing feeling.

I chose to do Maths, Physics and Product Design for my A levels, as with these I knew I could go on to apply for many different engineering or technology degrees. However I decided on Aerospace Engineering as it was the type of engineering I was most interested in and aircraft have always intrigued me.

After my A Levels I got a place at The University of Sheffield to study a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I absolutely love Sheffield, it’s the perfect city for me and I get to work in the amazing engineering building called the Diamond!

I knew I wanted to gain hands on, industry experience and to see what life working as an engineer is really like. So I decided to apply for an industrial placement and after lots and lots of applications I was offered one! I was over the moon when I got the call from Boeing as I was really keen to experience working in the aerospace sector.

Now I am 10 months into my year long internship at Boeing Defence UK and I am absolutely loving it.

We are both really excited to start sharing more of our stories and the tips & tricks we’ve learnt along the way!

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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Bluedot Festival – Our Experience

Back in the summer of 2017 (argh! it does not seem that long ago) Maisie and I decided we wanted to go to a festival. Maisie had finished her A Levels and I had completed my second year at uni and we decided to treat ourselves!

We wanted a small to medium sized festival which we could drive to, pitch up a tent and have a great time! We chose Bluedot Festival as we really liked the look of the music and science they had on offer. To top it all off, the festival takes place under the enormous telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, England. We were sold!

We decided to go for the full weekend arriving on the Thursday and leaving on the Monday morning. This was definitely a good move as there was so much going on and being there for the whole event meant we were able to see everything we could have wanted.

On the first day we got our tent set up and then had a good explore of the site and to get our bearings, ready for it all to kick off on the Thursday evening! The site is nice and compact which makes it really easy to walk around. There are lots of different tents and venues, so there’s always something interesting to see or do.

We had such a brilliant time, here are some of our highlights…

The Music

One of the first things that made Bluedot catch our attention was the amazing music line up they had on offer. Our favourite performance of the weekend was definitely Alt-J on the Saturday night! They were brilliant live performers and the whole spectacle was made even more atmospheric and special by the Lovell Telescope looming overhead.

The Science Talks & Workshops

There were so many incredible scientific talks, panels and workshops on offer over the weekend. We saw talks and panels about all sorts of topics, ranging from science and the patriarchy all the way to climate change. From professors to astronauts, the speakers we heard from were brilliant! Bluedot really has something for everyone!

There were also lots of workshops and experiments to take part in. We did a fascinating one all about visiting mars – with the help of a VR (virtual reality) headset.

The Food

This post would not be complete without mentioning the food! It was just a-mazing! There was a plethora of food trucks selling literally all food imaginable. Some of our favourites were the amazing pie and mash, the thai food and of course the churros – which we are so beautifully modelling right here!

Late Night Events

We also loved the late night events on offer. There was all sorts, comedy, amazing light displays and even late night movie screenings – we watched ‘Contact’ one night (they were all kind of sciency related!). There was a part of the site among the trees where pieces of art and sculpture were illuminated late at night and it was so stunning, we visited every night on the way back to the tent!

The Luminarium

Another brilliant piece of art was the luminarium, a sculpture which you can walk through and explore. It’s colours and shapes are mesmerising, it feels like you are in a totally different world. All the amazing colours are created, purely from sunlight coming in through the sculpture!

It really is an incredible event, we would both definitely recommend – bringing together science and art in a fantastic way! We will definitely be heading back again soon.

Unfortunately because of the current situation this year’s festival has been postponed to 22nd-25th July 2021. You can find out more about this the Bluedot festival on their website here, and on their Youtube channel here. Have a watch of the video below to get a proper feel for it!

Me and Maisie are always on the look out for more small-medium sized festival suggestions, what are your favourites? Please leave us a comment down below!

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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Welcome to 2 Sisters In STEM!


We are Lily and Maisie, two sisters who have managed to muddle our way to start careers in STEM. There have been ups and downs, brilliant achievements and difficult challenges but all those experiences have led us to where we are today, and we hope sharing our stories will make it all seem a little less daunting and a little more real!

We are both really passionate about science communication, and in particular about encouraging young women to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The main thing both of us felt was lacking as we muddled through school, university and ultimately employment was advice and honest chats from young women going through the same things we were! So we thought we had better get cracking and start something we know we would have found really useful a few years back.

We have lots of posts coming up which we hope you will enjoy on all sorts of topics! From GCSE’s to job hunting, from science events to exam tips, you will not want to miss a post. So please follow our blog down below to be notified as soon as they are up! Thanks so much

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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