Transform the Future – INWED 2019 #5

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Transform the Future - INWED 2019 #5

Here's Hitachi Infocon's Engineers, Nora and Penny, about women in engineering:

Nora:

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

I actually agree with this, unless you have a very strong personality and like challenges very much. I have seen very resistant teams, that did not want to have female engineers at all. On the other hand I have never worked at places like ‘Boots’ it could be that those teams are more balanced. (I had an interview a few months ago for the researcher’s position at Boots, it seemed like it was a very flexible role and that people were very keen on engaging and delivering the results to the customers, however, the role got transformed and so they decided that my background did not include reliability assurance and testing skills, so I had to drop out).

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?

I have seen a lot of female engineers joining Rolls-Royce, because I used to help graduates to settle, I would ask what were the reasons for choosing engineering, majority said it was only to do with higher incomes if compared to other subjects that their friends had chosen.

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

I think it is a very individual matter. People can choose a lighter version of engineering as well as a heavier course at the university ( mechanical engineering). If the main reason for choosing the engineering course is money, then it might not work as we spend so much time at work – we should choose something we are very interested in, not what pays well only.

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

I was involved in the Bloodhound project in Bristol, I think it is a good way of introducing engineering at schools. Would children choose engineering as a subject to study later in life– I do not know, I think there is no such evidence gathered yet, because these projects are quite new (especially nationwide).

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

I think, a challenge to fit in? I started dealing with engineering as a patent law technical assistant, I dealt with a mix of people and I think I did not understand what real engineering really is.  After I graduated from the university I started dealing with System Engineering tasks mainly, I quite enjoy it, however I really miss my previous environment where the team would be built up out of various background people and the daily tasks would involve patens, engineering and general technical assistance.

Q: What three things make you most proud to be a female engineer in HICSE?

I think that the most rewarding bit is quite general -  the ability to see a positive change that you make while improving the processes or the product (money saving, resource saving, shortened timescales, improved efficiency.. etc). Another very important thing is to be able to improve processes using the methodology that you have picked up at the university (or at previous workplaces), but that you have used in many other roles, because it confirms that the tools and the methods you have employed actually are transferable and work.

Q: What positive traits do you think female engineers bring to a workplace?

I think it is good to have a more balanced environment, however, men need to want it as well. I have seen very resistant teams, not accepting the idea of women in engineering. Rolls-Royce has a mix of both, but generally the level of professionalism is very high. (I was warned by my tutor at the university when I started my Master’s course, that I ticked all the boxes to be unwanted  in engineering – a mixed background, a woman and a foreigner, in the beginning I doubled  it, but later I did experience some comments that made me think he was right, that is why I think it is for very strong women who like challenges).

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

I think I have not been long enough it engineering to know more about it. My main hero was my manager in Rolls-Royce – John, who knew answers to all possible questions he was asked, - it was very impressive (or maybe it only looked to me like that because I lacked engineering knowledge myself?)

Penny:

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

A: I don’t think it’s to do with gender but personality.  If you have any enquiring mind and wonder how something happens and could it be done better, more efficiently, more safely then engineering is for you.

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?

A: Lack of information as to the range of careers engineering covers. I’m not sure that people realise how diverse it is and the opportunities that are available.

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

A: Try it.  There are so many aspects to engineering and it’s a career that can take you all round the world and become involved in many different types of industries.

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

A: I think initiatives like Women in Rail and Young Rail Professionals helps but this is for people who are already in the industry. More needs to be done in schools when career choices are made so people realise how diverse and interesting engineering is.  

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

A: I’ve found the industry very inclusive and have not experienced any specific challenges that are specific to females.

Q: What three things make you most proud to be a female engineer in HICSE?

A: The quality of the work and the fact that everything is done properly and is well project planned and documented.

Q: What positive traits do you think female engineers bring to a workplace?

A: The same as anybody else, being a good team member with an excellent attitude to work and desire to produce the best product possible (and the willingness to take turns bringing in treats for the team. As the saying goes, an army marches on its stomach and the same is true for engineers)

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

A: Not a female engineer but my father is a Mechanical Engineer so I grew up doing things and taking them apart to see how they work.

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