Dr Priya Saravanapavan is our Admissions Tutor and Strategic Teaching Fellow Tutor for Women in the Department of Materials. 

1)     What led you to teach a STEM-related subject?

My favourite subject was Maths. Later I discovered I was good at Physics and Chemistry too. So when I was choosing my A-Level subjects, my parents encouraged me to study the subjects I liked. I then wanted to study Engineering; while I was researching which type of engineering I would want to study, I found a magazine from the Institute of Materials. I did my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Imperial and was on an academic pathway. I realised I wanted to have more contact time with students, realised teaching was what I was good at. The choice to train as a secondary school Maths teacher wasn’t difficult and it evolved to include teaching Physics and Engineering at a sixth form. I have only recently started back at Imperial - teaching and helping students. I love the interactions I have with undergraduates, helping them solve problems, realise their potential and achieve their dreams.

2)     What advice would you like to give young women thinking of studying STEM subjects?

If you like science, go for it! It’s the best thing, whether you study pure sciences or an applied science, you are taught how to logically think, solve problems, think outside the box and be resilient. We need more logical thinkers, who work hard and persevere to come up with innovative solutions to problems we don’t even know about yet! Studying science is also a lot of fun too, think of all the experiments you can do. Do what you feel in your heart to be right!

3)     Is there a particular female who inspires you?

There are many women who have inspired me – Indira Ghandi who is the only woman prime minister of India (not just because she was a stern and skilful politician but apparently I am named after her) Marie Curie; Helen Keller; Amelia Earhart; Eleanor Roosevelt; Rosa Parks; Malala Yousafzai; but the person who inspired me most was my maternal grandmother – her resilience, elegance and caring nature – even in her late 80’s she didn’t have a wrinkle on her face! She encouraged me to be the person I am now.

4)    What assumptions about being a women that you would like to change?

I think its what we make of it – sure, as a woman I can be emotional and cheerleader like but at the same time be assertive and strong. Yes, there are barriers to progression; you have to be resilient and persevere. I have been very fortunate to be in workplaces which are regarded as creative places to thrive; where everyone is valued for their contribution regardless of gender. I believe we can learn form other cultures where they instil the virtue of education regardless of gender.