Show Form

News search

News Menu:

Sign up to our Engage eNewsletter

Engineering News

Honouring the remarkable achievements of inspiring female engineers during Women’s History Month

Published: 07/03/2024

Engineering encompasses a broad range of disciplines, representing a rich spectrum of fields. Traditionally perceived as a profession dominated by men, addressing the issue of women's underrepresentation is a key focus, requiring heightened emphasis on diversity and inclusion efforts.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) within engineering are key to embracing new perspectives, enhancing innovation, encouraging effective problem solving, increasing adaptability and, of course, a broader talent pool.

The framework of D&I fosters a broad understanding of gender equality and cultivates a more inclusive society where all women feel valued, represented, and empowered.

Observed annually in March, Women’s History Month along with International Women’s Day on 8 March, is a time to recognise the historic contributions and achievements of women who have shaped societies, cultures, politics, sciences, the arts and more. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on progress made towards gender parity and challenges still being faced.

In celebration, we shine a spotlight on professionally registered female engineers, especially those who are championing diversity and inclusion. These inspirational engineers share their thoughts on the profession and discuss their own career journeys, motivations and achievements.

Flt Lt Jess Mac Sweeney BEng (Hons) MSc CEng MIMechE navigated a significant learning curve upon entering the commercial sector, where her job title demanded immediate credibility and high levels of accuracy. Despite the challenge, her Royal Air Force career's frequent job rotations enabled her to diversify her skills quickly and she's already embarking on her fourth tour in less than five years.

Jess finds fulfilment in military duties and outreach, especially visiting schools to share engineering insights. Speaking enthusiastically of her experiences, she aims to inspire students with tales of riding in helicopters and witnessing controlled explosions, showing that engineering offers diverse opportunities beyond calculations and diagrams.

Rebecca Fasham BEng IEng MPWI, a mother for the first time, is currently reflecting on her career and contemplating her future steps. She aspires to lead and drive positive change in the rail industry, whether culturally, technically, or within existing processes, or a combination of all three. Rebecca thrives on collaborative work and the sense of accomplishment that comes with making an impact. Additionally, she aims to achieve Chartered status within the next five years. Rebecca is actively involved in STEM activities, volunteering and mentoring university students. She also supports the Permanent Way Institution (PWI) by organising annual local member activities and events.

Dr Ozak Esu PhD BEng (Hons) CEng MIET was motivated to specialise in electronic and electrical engineering after encountering shortages in energy and power supply during her upbringing in Nigeria. She was inspired to contribute towards addressing and resolving this issue.

She is dedicated to driving societal progress through both educational initiatives and the hands-on implementation of sustainable engineering solutions. In May 2019, she actively engaged in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Build Malawi, a volunteer-led Women’s Engineering Expedition. This involved fundraising, as well as the design and construction of a new STEM Education centre serving 124 students in Mangochi, Malawi, conducted in collaboration with the local community.  Ozak aspires to embark on further ambitious voluntary projects aimed at promoting engineering within the scope of international development.

Bethany Holroyd EngTech CMIOSH MICE takes great pleasure in collaborating with the diverse teams and clients she supports. She actively engages in industry-wide initiatives at policy level with various organisations, guided by her passion for driving change. Despite juggling numerous responsibilities, she is particularly dedicated to raising awareness of industry roles, especially among young girls. Bethany has received several awards throughout her career, including a scholarship from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Her most significant achievement was being recognised as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Construction 2022 and also receiving the North East Unsung Hero award from the National Federation of Builders on the same night.

For Delyth Williams MEng CEng MIChemE, being offered the position of Area Lead at the Phillips 66 Ponca City Refinery in Oklahoma, USA was an opportunity that presented an exciting new challenge. Accepting the role was a life-changing decision for her as it required relocating her family to Oklahoma and leaving behind close friends and familiar aspects of UK life. Embracing this opportunity meant not only taking on a new professional challenge but also immersing herself in a completely different culture. Delyth is keen to continue to progress in a managerial role at Phillips 66 and recommends applying for professional registration as soon as you possess the necessary skills and experience as it will broaden your career horizons.  She had actively supported the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) while in the UK, contributing to local events and offering mentorship to individuals striving for Chartered status. Additionally, she mentors the chemical engineers within her team, fostering their growth and development.

Katherine Moynihan ICTTech MIHE became an Affiliate Member of IHE (Institute of Highway Engineers) in 2018, finding that it closely aligned with her professional interests. With many of her team also members of IHE and active in the Mercia Branch (West Midlands), joining felt like a natural step. As a woman, she considers visibility in such networks important. Katherine, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador, believes a key challenge for the industry is making STEM fields more attractive to students, especially females, given the current underrepresentation of women in the UK STEM workforce.

Last year, EngineeringUK revealed that in 2021, women made up only 16.5% of the engineering workforce in the UK. This was an increase of 6.5% from 2010. Although it has been a positive change, continued efforts are needed to promote the sector as diverse and inclusive in order to attract more women into the profession.