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Imagine the Future - INWED 2022

Our first story from one of our exceptional women engineers, Melanie Sutcliffe. To kick-start this year's International Women in Engineering Day.

Inspiration #1 – Melanie Sutcliffe, Senior Test Engineer.

Hitachi are proud to support International Women In Engineering Day #INWED22 this week – celebrating our women engineers this week and every week!

Hitachi believes that diversity is the wellspring of innovation and a powerful growth engine, and we hope to inspire women and girls around the world to consider a career in engineering.

Here are a few insights into the career of one of our amazing engineers - about what it means to be a woman engineer, how they got involved and the benefits and pitfalls!

#INWED22   #ImagineTheFuture

Melanie shares her thoughts with us

Why I became an engineer

In a scenario that I’m sure is familiar to many people regardless of their job, I fell into engineering – it certainly wasn’t the fulfilment of a much-cherished childhood dream!

I gravitated towards the field of software engineering because it suits the way my brain works; I love scrutinising detail (I’ve been called a pedant more than once!), I’ve always questioned and challenged the way things are done, and I just can’t ignore something that doesn’t seem right. The type of tasks I relish are those which other people try to avoid – I was once put to work identifying why a software programme was intermittently losing £0.01 in every £10,000!

I genuinely love the job I do, and whilst I appreciate it’s not a role that would suit everyone, it works for me, and I consider myself very lucky to be working as a software engineer.

Q: What would you say to someone who thinks engineering is a career better suited to men, not women?

I don’t think gender is relevant to an individual’s career choice – if someone has the required skills and the right mind-set, then they’re the best person for the job.

Q: Have you seen an increase in the number of female engineers during your career? If so/if not, why do you think this is?

As I’ve become more senior, I’ve seen the percentage of female engineers diminish. I think this may be due to women leaving the industry to have children or taking on caring responsibilities and not returning. I think the failure to encourage women to return to work is a missed opportunity – there are vast numbers of skilled engineers whose talents are being allowed to go to waste. I think companies who can find a way to engage these ‘returning’ women, undoubtedly reap significant benefits.

Q: What advice would you give young girls considering a career in engineering?

Go for it! Careers in engineering are rewarding, and potentially well-paid. Don’t make the mistake of assuming all engineering roles involve manual labour, High Viz clothing and/or getting dirty, because that’s simply not true.

Q: Given the number of female engineers in our industry is relatively low, how best do you think these numbers can be increased?

Encouraging women to return to engineering roles after taking time off to raise children or the cessation of caring responsibilities would be a great place to start.

Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge female engineers face in the workplace?

I’ve never encountered any specific gender-related challenges. Perhaps I’ve been lucky (or very thick-skinned!), but I’ve always felt I was judged on my ability to do the job, not on my chromosomal make-up!

Q: What makes you most proud to be a female engineer in HICSE?

I’m proud that HICSE are increasing the number of female engineers in the business – it proves that we’re a company who are attempting to address the gender imbalance. HICSE’s sponsorship of WES (Women’s Engineering Society) also demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting female engineers in our industry.

Q: Do you have a personal ‘hero’ from the world of female engineering? If so, who and why?

Grace Hopper. I attended the Grace Hopper Conference several years ago and was thoroughly impressed by her contribution to the world of computer programming.

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