A Look at Women In Engineering
You’d be forgiven for thinking engineering is a boys-only club. Indeed, men do still fill the majority of roles in any engineering context.
But the balance is shifting. More young women are choosing to pursue careers in engineering – from civil projects to construction, technology, IT, mechanics and of course subsea equipment.
On International Women’s Day, we wanted to shift our focus to women working at aae technologies and talk to one of them about how they got into their role.
The changing face of the engineering landscape
Wherever you look now in the engineering field, you’ll find women in key roles. A survey by the Women’s Engineering Society in June 2021 found that 14.5% of engineers in the UK were women. This may not sound like a significant figure, but is a marked improvement on the 9% found in 2015 – representing a 61% increase over the 6-year period.
Attitudes from a young age are also changing quickly. Many old-fashioned ideas of what constitute ‘proper’ roles for women have now been firmly left behind in the last century, and perceptions of gender barriers to scientific or engineering careers are fading. The same report found 60% of girls aged 11-14 would consider a career in engineering, compared to 46.4% in 2018 – an approximate 30% jump in 3 years.
There’s no reason to assume this rate of change will slow, and we should continue to see improved parity in the years to come.
Quick aae spotlight: Jane Hayes
We’ve been delighted to welcome two new female engineers into our production team over the past year – Assembly Technician Jane Hayes and Junior Assembly Technician Elizabeth Matthews – and another young woman is set to join us for a work placement soon.
Jane’s pathway into engineering seems to have been quite smooth. Out of college, she found herself working at electronics giant Sanyo and really enjoyed getting involved with cutting-edge technology. However, the fact she doesn’t possess a specific engineering or electronics degree or diploma did not hold her back.
“Luckily,” says Jane, “I was moved into the test area.” It turns out she is a testament to simply getting involved and learning as you go on the job to get ahead. “Not being qualified,” she says, “everything I have learned has been through me being nosey…”
It seems nosiness and an aptitude for technology can play a key part in finding your direction and shaping your career. Jane also corroborates the findings from the Women’s Engineering Society, above, showing how perceptions of gender roles have shifted. “Nowadays,” she says, “there don’t seem to be many barriers for women to forge a career in engineering.”
She’s a strong believer in casting aside doubts and having the confidence to pursue whatever you feel drawn to. Her advice? “I would encourage any women to follow their interests in any career.”
The results of such self-belief are very rewarding. “I’m happy to go to work every day so that must mean I enjoy my work.” Spoken like a true engineer – logical and yet heart-warming at the same time.
No true path to an engineering career
What’s interesting in talking to a few women in engineering is that you don’t necessarily need to progress through a conventional engineering degree or similar qualification path in order to gain entry to a fulfilling career. As Jane mentioned above, she didn’t gain any specific qualifications, but learnt everything through getting involved with the work she loved and wanted to do.
In the IT world, Vickie Allen (senior developer and founder of the DevelopHER Awards) has become highly respected in her field, yet did not go to university. Always strong in Maths and logical thinking, she started in placements straight from school and progressed her way up the ladder through constant learning as she went.
Similarly, through the awards, Vickie has encountered a great number of success stories of women who discovered a love for technical work, used online resources to teach themselves more and side-stepped into a more technical role. It seems that, where companies have women with skills and aptitudes who are keen to learn, they are often willing to welcome a change of career to a more engineering-based role.
The most positive feature of engineering is that it is constantly changing and evolving as technology also evolves and progresses. With everyone continually learning on the job and adopting new ways of working, this means that newcomers are not hugely disadvantaged compared to more experienced colleagues, and may have a better handle on new ways of working.
Women in Engineering Day
March 8th might be International Women’s Day, but the engineering sector gets its own Women In Engineering Day on June 23rd. We’ll be sure to also shine the light on our female engineers then, to see how they’ve continued to progress and catch up on any new starters between now and then!
Considering a career in subsea technology?
Talk to us today about available opportunities or what training might be applicable to the roles you see yourself moving into in the future.