The 23rd June 2018 was International Women in Engineering Day, more commonly known as INWED (engineering has a great love for acronyms). INWED is all about raising awareness of women within engineering, celebrating their achievements and encouraging younger girls to consider engineering as a career! Being a woman in engineering myself working within Ford Motor Company, I would encourage anyone to think of a future career within engineering, its a very dynamic and interesting industry at the moment! With all this in mind I thought I’d do a little post on my experiences and journey into the world of engineering so far!
Where my engineering career began…
I’ve always liked to know how things work, even as a child I was constantly curious about the things around me and would often watch my dad perform work on our family cars. Although up to year 11 at school I’d always wanted to be a teacher but after working in a school and hearing my mums experiences working within schools I decided it wouldn’t be for me. At Sixth Form I choose to do Maths, Physics and Product Design as A Levels and an AS in Chemistry, my main reasoning for picking these was because I enjoyed them! (Mostly – ask me about maths now and I’ll tell you how much I generally dislike it, I found it rather frustrating at times) As part of my Product Design course I took part in two Civil Engineering challenges with Jacksons Civil Engineers, this gave me a glimpse into the world of engineering where we had to work as a team to solve a real world engineering problem – it was at this point around November in year 12 that I decided that engineering was where I wanted to go. This heavily influenced my choice for looking at engineering courses at different universities, but mechanical over civil as I prefer moving things to buildings! I went on a number of open days and came across Brunel University which I preferred over the other open days I went on (inc Southhampton, Oxford Brookes, Surrey), I applied for the course of Mechanical Engineering with Automotive Design BEng and was successful at getting in on A Level results day (Even with a C in maths). From there I had a very successful time at Brunel, carried out a brilliant placement year at Ford, decided to carry on with the MEng masters year and graduated with a 1st class masters degree while securing a place on the Ford Graduate Scheme! So thats the brief, how I got here…but whats it really like?
My Engineering world…
There are a lot of stereotypes around engineering, interestingly if you type “engineer” into google images and do a search it comes up with tons of photos of mostly men wearing hardhats and consulting clipboards. If you work within civil engineering then this is probably a common sight but I haven’t seen a single person in my building wearing a hardhat or even have a clipboard! There are thousands of different roles within engineering, so far I have personally experienced three which can be simplified down to the following: one – tracking/monitoring data, two – travelling abroad to manufacturing sites to check on prototype builds and three – new product strategy. These are just mine, its safe to say that it is a very broad area! In an average day at work (7:20 – 15:30) I spend a fair amount of time working on my laptop, checking data, finding trends, lots of playing on excel, attending meetings and sticking postit notes all over boards and graphs. I alternate between wearing trousers, skirts, dresses and will opt for either a comfy pair of flat shoes or heels – its all quite smart really!
And yes, the above is actually me, we had some photos done as part of a “what women in engineering look like” campaign.
Have I seen any Sexism within the workplace?
This is a question I have been asked a few times and I’m lucky enough to be able to say no! From my personal opinion I haven’t had any issues with being a woman in engineering – perhaps I am just one of the lucky ones and have worked with some great people – the only issues I have come across before is lack of experience, but generally once you’ve explained to someone who’s worked in engineering for 15+years that you’ve only been there for 6months they tend to get very apologetic and helpful! And on that wonderful topic of gender pay gap…all Ford Graduates start on the same base pay, this is then adjusted to the level of education you have and your experience (any placement years etc). I am aware it does take place within some industries but in engineering I believe this in minimal.
Whats my Favourite thing about Engineering?
For me this is a very easy question to answer: being able to see a theoretical idea/design become a real product in the real world. When I was on placement I saw the design work behind the New Ford Transit, that vehicle has now been launched and has started to appear on the roads in the hands of real customers. In my opinion that is something which is amazing to see, especially when you know how much work and effort a huge number of people have put in to make it all happen!
Would I recommend Engineering as Career?
YES – You need to put in a lot of hard work to get there, but it’s great once you are and there are so many areas of engineering opportunities across the globe!