Celebrating Women in Engineering

23 Jun 2024

Published in: Black Country Chamber of Commerce News

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce celebrates International Women in Engineering Day.

Sunday 23rd June 2024 marks International Women in Engineering Day which celebrates the amazing work that women engineers are doing and plays a vital role in encouraging more young women to take up engineering careers.

Did you know? The first female to get an engineering degree in the UK/Ireland was Alice Perry from the University of Galway in 1906.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce ‘People and Work’ report , the number of pupils taking technical-related qualifications at key stage 4 has declined, with just 1% of pupils now entering GCSE engineering. (p. 11)

We spoke with female engineers across our premium membership about their journey into the sector and what advice they would give to young women thinking of joining the industry.

Name: Vicki Furber

Job Title/Role: Senior Chemical Engineer

Company: Robinson Brothers Ltd

1. How did you get your start in the industry?

As a young girl I was always very interested in chemistry, but I knew I didn't want to work in a lab. I researched other options and discovered Chemical Engineering which I then went on to study at university. Whilst studying I undertook a couple of industrial placements which were invaluable, I also managed to secure a summer job at the company I still work for today. On graduating, Robinsons contacted me as they had a vacancy and I have never looked back.

2. What career advice would you give young women interested in engineering?

The advice I would give is the same for young men and young women. Focus on what you want to do, not what your gender is. Grab any opportunities you can to build your practical experience. Engineering is such a varied career it can be hard to know what branch of engineering you would excel in (Civil, Electrical, chemical etc.). Are you a practical person or a theoretical design type of person? Engineering has a niche for everyone, the hard bit is finding what suits you best.

Name: Abbiegail Hill

Job Title/Role: Engineering Technician

Company: voestalpine Metsec

1. How did you get your start in the industry?

I started my first apprenticeship in Engineering at LEMA (Lean Engineering and Manufacturing Academy) where they taught me basic engineering for 6 weeks and helped me find a job. This job eventually led me to become a coded MIG welder and I had experience in factory work such as grinding and cutting steel. After a while, I wanted more of a challenge, so I applied for another apprenticeship here with Metsec…I see this as the real beginning of my career. I went on to do level 3 in Construction in the built environment and Levels 4 & 5 Foundation Degree at Wolverhampton University in Civil Engineering. I never thought I’d go to university, so this was a big achievement for me! 6 years later I’m currently working on the Crisis team helping my department get out urgent and complex jobs.

2. What career advice would you give young women interested in engineering?

I would 100% encourage young women to pursue a career in engineering. It’s very diverse and broad – engineering can open amazing opportunities for anyone’s future. It allows you to test yourself and realise your true potential! You’ll learn new things every day without a doubt, and you can also make some amazing friendships with likeminded, intelligent and kind people. Studying engineering can open countless chances at not only changing the world but giving yourself a vital sense of accomplishment.

Name: Meaghan Phillips

Job Title/Role: Hydromechanical Engineer

Company: Moog (Aircraft Group)

1. How did you get your start in the industry?

I was encouraged to study mechanical engineering at Uni by one of my teachers when I was younger due to my interest in maths and physics. Upon graduation, I began looking for graduate roles in the automotive and aerospace industries. I was offered a grad position at Moog Aircraft Group where for two years I learned on the job and got to experience working on different teams such as design, performance and development all within the military actuation department. I am now a Hydromechanical Engineer and get to manage/support projects deliver new flight control solutions to military aircraft.

2.  What career advice would you give young women interested in engineering?

I would advise to try to target what motivates you, how you work best and where your passions lie. You may feel fulfilled by getting into nitty-gritty details and working independently to solve complex problems OR you may prefer to work on collaborative teams and are more interested in the big picture, both are equally valid. Engineering looks very different to everyone, and we can lean on your variety of strengths and learn from you no matter your background or experience.

Name: Amy Ward

Job title/Role: Senior Technician. I manufacture and test a broad range of hydraulic and electrical valves, supporting and working with engineering on new and current projects.

Company: Moog (Industrial Group)

1. How did you get your start in the industry?

I was looking for a career change with good prospects in an interesting and stable environment. I found engineering intriguing, especially since the only woman I knew in the field was my mother. I applied for an assembly and test job, which was a great introduction into the world of manufacturing and engineering.

2.  What career advice would you give young women interested in engineering?

Firstly, look beyond the stereotypical job roles for women. Don’t underestimate your own physical abilities. The world of manufacturing and engineering has moved on a lot since the Victorian era. Learn as much as you can about different aspects of engineering, there are many, and don’t be afraid to give anything a try, you might like it.

Want to find out more?

Our Black Country Manufacturing Community meets throughout the year to discuss updates on UK manufacturing and themes affecting policy. You can sign up to our newsletters and keep an eye on our calendar for more information.

View our events calendar

Women in Leadership

Are you a senior in your field interested in meeting other women in leadership across the Black Country? Join our networking event on Thursday 4th July with guest speaker, Pip Tomson, Stourbridge-raised journalist and TV presenter best known for her work with Good Morning Britain and ITV News.

Book now

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