Following on from International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), organised last month by the Women’s Engineering Society to focus attention on careers available to women in engineering and to celebrate the achievements of women engineers, we invited some of our women engineers to share their thoughts on how to encourage more women into the sector.
The theme of INWED this year was #TransformTheFuture, and Wrekin Products thinks one of the ways to do that is to listen what existing women in engineering say about what attracted them to the sector and what they think would help encourage more women to work in it.
Three of Wrekin’s women engineers share their experiences and ideas on the subject.
Samantha Evans has been working for Wrekin Products for four years as an Industrial Design Engineer. Her many and varied responsibilities include design and development of new and existing products, creating 3D CAD models and 2D engineering drawings for production, and running Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to refine designs.
She says that indications she would fit well into engineering were there from childhood; “I spent a lot of time playing with K-nex and Lego. I really liked being able to get involved with the practical side, of sketching and building prototypes and testing – reading textbooks never really interested me at all. Therefore, when choosing the degree I wanted to do, there was only one option!”
The option Samantha took was to study for a BA (Hons) in Product Design at the University of Derby.
When she did her degree, she was one of two women in an intake of 17. The year group above was 100% male and the one below had just one woman.
Asked what she thinks would help #TransformTheFuture, Samantha says more information about careers in engineering needs to be provided.
“I don’t think women are necessarily put off working in engineering, I think it’s more the lack of exposure to what it actually involves.
“If you asked me what was involved in engineering when I was younger I thought it was all maths and equations, which is a part of it, but it’s so much more than that.
“I think if we were to introduce engineering to women in a fun and interesting way from a young age, we’d see a lot more of them involved later in their lives.
Samantha Evans, Industrial Design Engineer
“It would be useful for careers advisers to recognise that if a young person says they enjoy understanding how things work and fit together, as well as how they are made, that engineering is worth exploring.”
Graduate Research and Development Engineer Merih Boz has been working for Wrekin Products for just over a year.
She works on the development of new products, modifying existing ones and is also involved in design research.
Like Samantha, Merih says it was clear from an early age that engineering would suit her: “I was always curious about the robotics, electronics and making/ breaking stuff. I knew engineering was suitable for me!”
Merih is from Turkey, where she says women engineers are far more common that in the UK, but she studied engineering at University in the UK.
Asked what she thinks deters women from careers in engineering, she says it is partly the women themselves – “Some women don’t want to do the challenging part of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) subjects.” She also points to the attitudes of others. “Society discourages women; I experienced this at University, some peers and lecturers question the capabilities of women as engineers.”
Merih’s thoughts around ways to #TransformTheFuture focus on making the most of existing talents regardless of what others say, and on providing more information about careers in the sector.
“Women should explore their capabilities. They should be encouraged by their family, friends and teachers, to nurture their skills and talents without taking notice of society and peer pressures,” she advises.
“Showcasing the benefits and different kinds of engineering available would help women to see that not every engineering field is the same. I want to stress that whatever they choose to do it does not make them less of a woman.”
Ji Hai Qin works as an International Trade Manager for Wrekin Products, a role she has fulfilled for almost nine years.
Ji has a myriad of responsibilities. She helps manage our international supply chain, including projects assigned for overseas engineers, as well as supporting the technical team and manufacturing partners by maintaining a structured library of product data.
She is a member of the China Foundry Association and says her home country is putting effort into getting more women into science and engineering research, development and jobs.
“I have developed my knowledge and skills through experience,” she explains, but it is good to see that more women in China are now considering these as career areas and policies have been put into place to help with this.”
Looking to the future, Ji also believes women in engineering need to talk more about their work and how rewarding it is – as she has here!
Wrekin Products was proud to support INWED and thanks Samantha, Merih and Ji for sharing their thoughts.