As part of our celebrations of Women in Engineering Day we caught up with the team for a quick Q&A to discuss the women in STEM who have inspired them and what we can do to encourage a more diverse industry…
What is your favourite aspect of working within the engineering industry?
Wilma McDaniel, Commercial Director: The infinite possibilities applied engineering presents. It has the ability to transform lives by enabling automation to unburden individuals. For us this has applied to health and wellbeing, resulting in one-of-a-kind technology.
Nicola Jeacocke, Business Development & Marketing Executive: As part of a start-up company, I have been blessed to watch us develop our technology from abstract ideas to working prototypes. Even though the journey can be long, being involved in decisions, which shape what will be brought to market is so exciting. The fact that our team are able to bring our ideas to life and create something brand new in the process is incredible!
Mandy Smith-Barr, Senior Project Manager: For me, the most exciting aspect of working with engineering teams is that you are surrounded by people who are constantly thinking outside of the box to find ways to deliver and develop new or improved technologies.
In what ways do you think the STEM industry will benefit from a more equal workforce?
Ignacio Gomez, Embedded Software Engineer: Like other industries, the STEM sector benefits from committed people, no matter which gender. The more the merrier!
Daniel Lennon, Senior Mechanical Project Engineer: By only encouraging males into the industry, 50% of the population is being discounted and you’re losing half the talent pool. Generally, STEM is about solving problems, and women approach problems in different ways from men. Encouraging diversity of thought when finding solutions could only be a good thing.
Kevin Kelly, DevOps Engineer: Problem solving is much easier with a team, as the diversity is what drives innovation, as opposed to individual ability. There needs to be different social and cultural backgrounds alongside an open environment where women feel comfortable in sharing their opinions and asking for what they need.
What further steps do you feel can be taken to encourage women to pursue a career in STEM?
Brian McGuiness, Head of Software, Systems & Services: Schools must make a conscious effort to ensure STEM subjects are not seen as ‘just for boys’. Studies have shown girls lose interest in these subjects at an early age due to external factors and unconscious gender bias, and we must break this cycle to see more women graduate with STEM degrees and enter the workforce.
David Heath, Founder and CEO: We should not present the hard sciences vs. the creative arts. STEM is just like music, learning the methods equip you with the skills and tools to be creative. When people have a passion for something and understand how STEM skills could be used creatively within that space, the result will be a rewarding journey rather than just the end destination.
And finally, tell us about the women in STEM who have inspired you?
Emma McKale, Marketing Manager: I come from a non-STEM background so I’m learning more about the sector every day. I think that the work of Dr Hayaatun Sillem and The Royal Academy of Engineering in highlighting the diverse opportunities for women to have successful careers within engineering is particularly exciting. Kerrine Bryan, an award-winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books is also incredibly impressive. She is blending her career whilst advocating for flexible working and diversity within workplaces, on top of writing children’s books introducing children to STEM from an early age.
Sarah Shields, Mechanical Project Engineer: I have been lucky to always have a strong presence of female role models and colleagues involved in STEM around me. Seeing what those from a similar background to me have managed to achieve has been inspiring and stopped me putting any limits on my own career trajectory.
Virginie Darteyre, Country Sales Manager: It would have to be Nobel Peace Prize winner Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, who identified HIV and implemented procedures for the prevention, clinical care, and treatment of AIDS. Her work has saved millions of lives.
David Heath, Founder and CEO: Grace Hopper coined the term ‘computer bug’ when a moth flew into the circuits of her Harvard Mark 1 and it unexpectedly stopped working. She recognised she had developed a valuable skill in maths, and applied this to military operations during WW2, to help tackle the challenges the world was facing during this time. While undertaking this work, she had a vision for computer programming languages based on English, rather than machine code. This led to the creation of COBOL, which is arguably one of the most influential languages in history.
Helen Dow, Business Office Manger: I am witnessing inspiring young women as we speak, so watch this space!
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