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To support the International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on 23 June 2017, two Engineering Council Board Members share their thoughts and experiences as women working in and on behalf of the engineering community. We have also spoken to a handful of talented and inspiring women about their careers, achievements and how they discovered engineering.
Jane Cannon is Director, Security Industry Engagement at the Home Office, bringing Government and industry together to solve security and resilience problems in the UK and in export markets. Her numerous prominent roles include as a Partner in EY’s Advisory team, Group Managing Director for Lockheed Martin UK Information Systems & Global Solutions and Managing Director of QinetiQ’s Security Solutions business.
Jane is a passionate supporter of the engineering profession and delighted to support the activities of the Engineering Council to help the UK maintain its world-leading standards of engineering excellence.
What is being done, and what do you think could be done, to achieve greater numbers of female engineers and technicians in the UK?
“There are some fantastic initiatives in place, such as International Women in Engineering Day, the WISE Campaign and IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards. These are all working hard to attract more girls and young women into this important and rewarding profession, and in particular to support returning mothers.
“But we urgently need to do more to break through the invisible barrier that seems to stop more women from entering the profession. I believe employers are particularly important in this process, by fostering positive work cultures and recruitment and parental leave policies.
“However, it is important that we all do our bit - parents, teachers, STEM ambassadors, the media and the whole engineering community - to support this work and break down any false pre-conceptions that engineering is a career more suited to men. I have had the privilege of working with many brilliant and inspiring female engineers that we can hold up as role models.”
Carolyn Griffiths is a senior rail professional with extensive experience spanning from shop floor technician to Board Director. She has established new rail systems, managing major projects in the UK and overseas, and is currently a Board Director for Irish Rail. Prior to this, she was Chief Inspector of the UK's Rail Accident Investigation Branch, which she created and led, during which time she reported directly to the Secretary of State for Transport. Cranfield University has awarded her an Honorary Doctorate for her contribution to the rail industry.
Carolyn is the current President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and has been on the Engineering Council Board since 2014. She is keen to promote and further develop professional standards in engineering.
Why would you recommend engineering as a career for women?
“We need more talented engineers, both male and female. I have never felt deterred from furthering my engineering ambitions and would not hesitate to thoroughly recommend engineering as a career for women. I have been able to develop and progress my career whilst also enjoying immensely rewarding jobs - both in the UK and overseas. Engineering plays an essential role in so many aspects of life and the opportunities for engineers are creative, varied and in my experience always interesting.”
Chloe Etheridge EngTech MICE is a Site Engineer at BAM Nuttall and is currently working on the Crossrail project, constructing the new Elizabeth Line at Farringdon Station in central London. She is also winner of the 2017 ICE Jean Venables Medal Award for outstanding new Engineering Technicians.
“A career in Civil Engineering includes endless learning, problem solving, organisation skills, overcoming challenges, visualising and creating design, balancing and managing resources, and ultimately building exciting infrastructure to really make a difference to our lives. What I most enjoy about my job is the collaboration and teamwork of a variety of skilled and experienced people to successfully create something from concept to reality.”
Juliette Scholes EngTech TMIET is an Electrical Engineer at Hoare Lea. She designs electrical services and, when construction is underway, she goes on site to ensure that installed services match the design.
“In my experience I have only seen positive effects on my career as a woman engineer.
“As I am unavoidably conspicuous as a female Electrical Engineer I make sure I earn everything that comes my way. Commitment and a strong work ethic should be recognised above all else, regardless of any factors that may classify you as a minority. If you transcend these labels, they can never be used to question the success your hard work will ultimately bring.”
Eileen Russell CEng MIMechE is Head of Engineering and Maintenance at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport’s (SPT) Glasgow Subway Operations. She is responsible for approximately 80 staff who maintain the fleet of trains, the electrical power system, signalling and control systems, tunnels and track of the Glasgow Subway system.
“My job is exactly the same as it would be for a male engineer. I feel respected and supported as part of the engineering team and I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to work for companies and managers who have given me excellent opportunities for personal development, including training and coaching.”
Helen Randell MEng CEng MICE is a Senior Engineer at Buckingham Group Contracting Limited. She has worked on several sustainability projects, including development work on Energy from Waste plants, and is the 2015 winner of the Karen Burt Award.
“I feel extremely fortunate that my love of problem solving has formed the basis of my career. It is so rewarding to have the opportunity to share my experiences with other young women and to know that some have been inspired to join the exciting and ever changing world of engineering, where we really can make a difference.”
INWED is an annual international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus on the incredible career opportunities available to girls in this industry. It was established by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and is in its third year. To read more, please visit inwed.org.uk