The Women’s Engineering Society and Where Women Work support each other’s STEM related projects.
As we all know engineering is one of the most innovative and exciting industries that a woman might choose to enter. The career opportunities are abundant. Cutting-edge projects shape tomorrow’s world. Creative thinking transforms practical problems. And the highprofile international opportunities are truly astounding.
Indeed, it can be impossible to stand still once an engineering career is launched. The work, by nature, requires agile and innovative approaches and a strong passion for continuous improvement.
Sheila MacNeil, a Professor of tissue engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield agrees. “There’s a great deal of satisfaction when you find a better way of doing things. Engineering is a broad church and can offer many opportunities. It requires practical, hands on skills and the ability to solve problems. These are all skills which women have in abundance and perform well, not just as team members, but leading teams of engineers.”
Thankfully many engineering companies are actively working to communicate messages around engineering careers being hugely rewarding due to the exciting challenges and constantly changing dynamics.
Future female STEM talent
Schneider Electric, a company that specialises in energy management and automation solutions spanning hardware, software, and services, supports a team of 15 STEM ambassadors who regularly attend career events and science fairs targeting 9-19-year-olds.
According to Application Marketing Engineer, Amber Watkin: “Even though companies often report a shortage of women in engineering, we actually find plenty of girls interested in science and technology at STEM events.”
Graduates moving up
Many engineering companies offer exceptional graduate career programmes that see participants working on a wide range of exciting projects. “I enjoy the variety,” Alexa a graduate water engineer at Arup explains. “There are lots of opportunities to work on some exciting, high profile and challenging projects. I’m currently on a project team working with Scottish Enterprise looking at the competitiveness of the Scottish water technology market globally. I’ve also just completed a surface water management design for a university campus in Tanzania.”
The international nature of some engineering graduate programmes is also key as Katharina Luedorf, GKN’s Director of Global Talent Management, explains. “GKN’s graduate programme gives you a perfect opportunity to work in different areas and locations of the business and to meet lots of great people,” she said.
Women’s advancement is key
A number of engineering companies are actively encouraging women to grow their careers through mentoring and leadership programmes that support them in reaching their full potential. Birgit Guhse, Managing Director of AECOM’s Resources & Industry business across Continental Europe believes that “promoting role models is hugely valuable for women to see what is possible and what is achievable.”
Recognition is also a key factor in enhancing women’s job satisfaction. Dawn Ohlson, UK Business Engineering Director at Thales, was recognised by the UK’s First Women Awards for a string of firsts. She was the first in her family to go to university, the first and youngest female fellow at the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and she was the first woman to chair the IET committee. “Without Thales’s support, I would never have achieved so many firsts,” acknowledges Dawn.
Industry dynamics will change
STEM advocacy group, Where Women Work, has been promoting the achievements of women in STEM industries for many years alongside further industry groups. “With so many employers keen to increase the number of girls undertaking STEM subjects, coupled with more recent advancements in technology and coding by girls, industry will embrace a vibrant workforce of amazing women cleverly designing great products, services and structures,” says Where Women Work Director, Glenda Stone.
The engineering sector offers a creative career in a dynamic environment. With so many supportive companies investing in women’s career growth, the opportunities are simply boundless and so very hugely rewarding.
The UK's Women's Engineering Society is a charity and a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development. Working in partnership, they support and inspire women to achieve as engineers, scientists and as leaders. They encourage the education of engineering and support companies with gender diversity and inclusion activity.
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