Women Like Me relaunches for 2020-21

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Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project, aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.

The project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, and is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

Women Like Me pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake mentoring and engineering education outreach in the West of England region. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing mid-career women engineers with junior women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Junior engineers will deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the West of England region can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers are those who have been working in engineering for at least five years. Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants at the start (autumn 2020) and end (summer 2021) of the project. Depending on COVID restrictions, these may take place virtually. Senior engineers will receive support in mentoring and should meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project. This can take any form that best suits each pair. Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events, which again, may be virtual. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE.

How do I sign up?

To take part in the project this year, participants should complete the DETI Diversity Demonstrator survey and select Women Like Me from the list of areas of interest (along with any other areas you are interested in!) by Friday 4th December. The project coordinators will then be in touch having allocated the mentor/mentee pairs.

Want some more info?

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering. You can also watch the recording from this year’s launch event below.

Recording of WLM Launch Webinar, Nov 2020

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

EDM becomes a WISE Ten Steps Signatory

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The Department of Engineering Design & Mathematics (EDM) at UWE Bristol have signed up to the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Ten Steps.

As only 24% of the core-STEM workforce in the UK, women are the largest pool of under-represented talent in the country’s STEM-based industries. To tackle this, WISE developed the Ten Steps framework to help businesses achieve greater balance in their workforces.

As an action-driven, evidence-based approach, which was developed in consultation with industry partners, the Ten Steps supports organisations to improve recruitment, retention and progression of women; something that is also at the core of UWE’s Women Like Me tiered mentoring and outreach programme for women in engineering. Women Like Me launches for 2020-2021 with an online event on 12th November, including an introduction to the Ten Steps, women’s mentoring and outreach for under-represented groups.

What are the Ten Steps?

Signatories to the Ten Steps first complete a diagnostic tool, which highlights current strengths and areas that can be used to further improve workforce balance. This links to core principles, the ‘Ten Steps’:

  • Understand the starting point
  • Educate leaders
  • Change mindsets
  • Creative job design
  • Flexible working
  • Transparent progression opportunities
  • Equitable sponsorship of female talent
  • Promote retention and development of women
  • Treat this a business improvement
  • Share learning and good practice

EDM is already doing great work in all these areas, including achieving an Athena Swan Bronze Award. This success will be built on further as the department becomes one of the latest WISE Ten Steps signatories, and will particularly focus on making even more improvements in areas such as flexible working and changing mindsets.

The Ten Steps framework operates through the lens of a cultural backdrop driving the low representation of women in STEM industries in the UK, particularly in comparison to equivalent sectors in other parts of the world. Again, in close alignment with the principles of Women Like Me, the approach aims to increase the number of visible female role models in senior STEM positions, in turn making STEM-based career choices more appealing to girls, as they can see people ‘like them’ working and succeeding in these fields. WISE works with signatories to share practice and experiences, and enable them to learn from each other to improve balance and support for women across the sector. These insights will also be useful in improving representation for other groups, ultimately driving the workforce to become more diverse and accessible to all.

EDM department joins Bristol Technology Festival online for 2020

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We’d like to thank This is Engineering for use of images from their public image library that aims to better represent what engineers and engineering really look like. The feature image for this blog of a young woman using a VR headset is copyright of the Institution of Engineering and Technology & Callum Wood Ford.

Bristol Technology Festival takes place online, 9th – 15th November 2020

Bristol’s Technology Festival was born in 2019 seeking to showcase the sheer breadth of technology that had been developed in the local ecosystem, and share the stories of those entrepreneurs, engineers and creatives behind the technology with the people of the city, and further afield. It seeks to destroy any barriers between technology businesses, their suppliers, educational and charity organisations and the residents of the community that they live and work in. 

Events like these are more important now than ever before, with the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changing how we work and live, technologies are playing a crucial role in keeping our communities functional and connected in a time of lockdowns and quarantines.

This year’s festival will be delivered virtually. With a jam packed schedule of workshops, webinars, discussion panels, inspirational talks and networking events, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Themes for this year include diversity, inclusivity and sustainability and the DETI Inspire team from the Engineering Design and Mathematics department at UWE Bristol will be delivering events throughout the week.

Digital Engineering Careers Event, Mon 9th – Fri 13th November

The Digital Engineering Technology Innovation (DETI) Inspire team will be delivering a week-long careers fair for children aged 14+, themed on digital engineering.

The event will be hosted on the Like To Be online platform, where students will have access to inspirational videos from a diverse group of engineering professionals, sharing stories of their engineering journey, exploring the digital tools and technologies they use within their role and discussing how engineering can make a difference to people’s lives and help solve real-world problems.

Alongside these careers talks, students will have the opportunity to explore potential employment and development opportunities on offer from local employers, chat with real-life engineers and ask questions during several live Q&A sessions being held throughout the week, including a session from EDM’s very own Maryam Lamere, Doctoral Researcher and Associate Lecturer, who will be ready to answer questions about her research on the innovative Pee Power project, a technology that converts urine and other types of wastewater into electricity.

You can sign up to the event here.

Supporting Women and Girls in Engineering, Thursday 12th November

Only 12% of the UK’s engineers are women. Research shows that girls need to see women succeeding in STEM to feel that STEM is a potential career path for them.

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. The project pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to give them mentoring support as they start out in their engineering careers.

In turn, junior women undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Join us for the launch event of Women Like Me 2020/21! Find out how the project will be running this year and what digital outreach opportunities are available. Network with other women engineers, and listen to inspirational speakers, including Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, Senior Lecturer at UWE Bristol and Lead for the DETI Inspire project, and Sarah Behenna from the WISE Campaign. You can sign up to the event here.

If you would like more information on either of these upcoming events, or would like to be involved with similar events in the future, please contact the DETI Inspire team. A full line up of the Bristol Technology Festival events can be found here.

Engineering and a fear of failure

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A fear of failure can put people off iterative trial-and-error disciplines, such as engineering. In the past year, a team of locals have sought to better understand this fear in children, by undertaking research (with evaluation designed by UWE Bristol academics) within Bristol primary schools.

Bristol performer – Kid Carpet – led the “Epic Fail” project, with local engineers and representatives from Bristol young person mental health social movement – Off the Record, run workshops at Victoria Park, May Park and Begbrook primary schools.

Each school residency lasted two weeks and included workshops for Year Five classes in Bridge Building, Fantastic Inventions, Wellbeing, Un-uselessness and Song Writing. As well as some creative ways to capture children’s thoughts about failure.

Bridge building workshops were led by engineer Rachel Kirkwood – a member of UWE Bristol’s Women Like Me engineer mentoring programme. Rachel is featured in the video below, produced to celebrate the Epic Fail project in lieu of the live performances cancelled because of COVID-19.

And be encouraged by one child’s song to “Not give up” in the following short video.

UWE leads on inspiring future digital engineers

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The West of England is a hub for innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries, but as with the rest of the UK, there is a huge skills and employment gap for future engineers. That’s why the new Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative – launched on 15th July – is investing in the future of digital engineering for our region.

UWE Bristol is partnering with DETI to develop regional skills and inspire the region’s next generation of engineers. DETI Inspire will champion science for children in the West of England with a particular focus on breaking stereotypes and challenging perceptions about STEM careers in order to appeal to under-represented groups in engineering.

The skills challenge

Lack of exposure Many children, and particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds, will have very little exposure to science and may not know adults who work or have worked in STEM careers. This lack of so called “science capital” can have a significant impact on children’s aspirations regarding STEM careers. This is particularly important for young girls, as attitudes towards STEM are largely formed before age 11.

Lack of diversity Another major concern for the engineering workforce is the lack of diversity – with only 12% of women engineers and 7% from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.

Changing perceptions Research indicates that presenting engineering as a creative, collaborative profession, working towards socially conscious communal goals will have wider-spread appeal. Therefore DETI is particularly keen to contribute to the West of England’s sustainability and net zero goals.

DETI Inspire

UWE Bristol is establishing an Engineering Engagement Hub to coordinate engineering engagement for schools and families in the West of England, and will work together with DETI industry partners and school engagement providers to:

  • map past engagement activities in the region in order to build a network amongst partners and stakeholders and strategically plan future engagement to multiply/expand impact
  • develop curriculum linked engagement activities to tour schools and run out of the Prototype and Play centre for public engagement at UWE Bristol’s Engineering Building. These engagement activities will include:
    • a touring activity kit that challenges children to use digital engineering tools to tackle sustainability challenges
    • public open events for families and schools
    • 6-week STEM club challenges
    • run teacher CPD events to support and upskill
  • shape a “Diversity Demonstrator” – a network of diverse engineering role models to champion engineering public engagement. Including development of engagement training for this group of student and industry engineers

Building on UWE’s wealth of experience in public engagement

As a core provider of public engagement in the region and champion of equality, diversity and inclusion, UWE Bristol’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM) department is perfectly positioned to lead DETI Inspire.

EDM engages in local public facing technology fairs and national engineering competitions as well as spearheading various public engagement opportunities initiatives. For instance, members of the Bristol Bioenergy centre developed a microbial fuel cell activity that they use to teach children about electricity.

In addition to this EDM supports primary (Curiosity Connections) and secondary (Future Quest) engagement providers, as well as mentoring programmes such as, Women Like Me and BAME Girls into Engineering, to increase diversity in engineering

DETI Inspire will build and expand from all these existing UWE Bristol programmes. To find out more about DETI go to the official website – deti.uk

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Launch of West of England Digital Engineering Technology initiative

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UWE Bristol is proud to announce the official launch of the region’s new Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative!

DETI is a research, innovation and skills initiative created to develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple industry sectors, to ultimately benefit future generations of engineers and engineering products, and to help tackle global challenges.

UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics department will play a central role in DETI, leading the Skills development branch of the centre. EDM will work with other DETI partners to:

  • Inspire the next generation of diverse engineers
  • Transform the further and higher education landscape
  • Innovate lifelong learning of specialised digital engineering skills

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of UWE Bristol’s Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM), who led UWE’s bid, said: “This is a vitally important investment for our region and we are pleased to be leading on the skills and workforce development element of the centre’s work. It comes at a perfect time as we prepare to open our new engineering building where we will have state-of-the-art digital engineering facilities and an increased focus on digital engineering to train our graduates for emerging roles in the sector.”

For more details about this exciting new venture, please read the official press release launch of DETI and visit the new DETI website.

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

DETI – Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation

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Transforming engineering for the future

The global engineering landscape is shifting. Shorter product development times, faster routes to market and the need for through-life product sustainability for some of the most complex products the world has ever seen provides us with an exciting opportunity. To maintain engineering leadership, UK businesses need to develop new ways of working that enable agility, flexibility and competitive advantage, that will support future generations socially, economically and sustainably.

By the end of this decade, to deliver a low carbon global economy, everything we make will need to be completely re-imagined and re-engineered. Digital technologies will transform the way engineers operate to meet new product demands.  Industry requires new skills and digital test beds, from exploring the best tools to use, the technologies to invest in, to exploiting value from vast quantities of data generated through the product lifecycle. There are few test-grounds to explore and test technologies and processes without disrupting current production line pressure. This is where Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI)  comes in.

Accelerating digital engineering capabilities and skills

DETI  is starting as a two-year, research and development (R&D) initiative in the West of England. It will bring together advanced engineering companies, digital technology pioneers and universities to push the boundaries of digital engineering for the future, to help UK businesses maintain engineering leadership. DETI will help companies identify and develop the tools, technologies and processes they need to rapidly accelerate digital engineering capabilities and identify the skills needed to embed digital.

Running in parallel is the 5G-Encode Project, led by Zeetta Networks, which will see the NCC host the UK’s strategic 5G test bed and demonstration facility for industrial technologies which underpins DETI and the digitalisation of design and manufacturing.

DETI Partnership

The West of England is home to the UK’s largest advanced engineering and aerospace cluster and a vibrant digital community. As such, the region delivers the expertise, living labs and a technology test bed that companies need to progress.

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation, Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. Industry partners include Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, and CFMS, with in kind contributions from UWE, Digital Catapult and Siemens. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Industry Challenges, Enabling Capabilities and Skills

The DETI Programme will coordinate and deliver on key ‘Industry Challenges’, enabling companies of all sizes to collaborate on ‘proof of concept’ projects that address the barriers to digital transformation. It will deliver ‘Enabling Capabilities’ that establish digital domain expertise and core reusable technology (processes, models, tools and infrastructure).

Encouraging diversity and inclusivity, DETI will initiate a comprehensive ‘Skills’ and workforce development programme to ensure the current and future workforce is digital-ready, inspiring future generations.

To express your interest in joining the DETI programme, visit www.deti.uk or contact the team at deti@nccuk.com

More inspiration into engineering!

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UWE engineering students, alumni and staff have recorded home-videos to inspire children into engineering. This is the second post sharing some of these videos – you can catch up on two Aerospace Engineering students enthusiasm for engineering in the first post.

Here we’re sharing the insight and enthusiasm of two amazing female engineers:

  • UWE alumni – Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee
  • UWE lecturer and PhD researcher – Maryam Lamere

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee

Krystina gives a little insight into her job at BAE Systems, alongside sharing some top tips, how she’s overcome challenges and why she’s excited for the future of engineering.

Maryam Lamere

Maryam loves engineering and speaks a little about her research into pee-powered electricity. Most of all, she emphasises that a good engineer never gives up!

Are you a UWE engineering student, alumni or staff and have a story you’d like to share? Please get in touch with me at louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk to get your own home-video featured and shared to inspire the next generation of engineers!

International Women In Engineering Day

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International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is tomorrow – 23rd July – and is an opportunity to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.

The theme for this year’s INWED is “Shape the World”, and there are lots of ways you can take part…

Or read about some of EDM’s inspirational women.

On 10th June women in UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics department took part in celebrating the million women now working in STEM industries in the UK. They shared photos and stories to inspire other women in engineering. Read more here.

Six UWE engineers who are proud to be #1ofthemillion women in STEM in the UK

Other INWED events can be found here: http://www.inwed.org.uk/activities.html

Sign up to mentor girls into STEM – online!

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Cajigo is a mobile learning platform that empowers girls and women to reach their full potential through focused mentoring and support. And they’re on the lookout for new mentors!

Read on to find out more about the platform and how you could get involved…

Addressing the Gender Imbalance

In STEM industries female representation remains under 20% worldwide, and with many schools lacking girls taking STEM subjects at A level, this gender imbalance shows no sign of changing soon. With predictions that the next decade will see 80% of jobs requiring STEM skills, new solutions are badly needed to encourage women into STEM.

Cajigo School’s Programme works with education and businesses to signpost STEM industry careers to girls early on. This can have a huge positive effect on girls – inspiring, motivating and empowering them with the belief that they can reach their highest potential in these fields.

Cajigo aims to demystify STEM and digital careers to capture young minds, connecting careers to passions to get young girls excited about working within STEM and digital fields.

“Cajigo is a practical way, not only to increase diversity but also to make it a strategic imperative within the business”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President techUK, Chair of Digital Leaders

Online Mentoring

During the current lockdown, many girls would benefit from developing STEM skills whilst at home. And with evidence suggesting those from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups are likely to be left behind during this time, Cajigo is running as an online solution to keep these populations engaged and motivated in STEM.

The Cajigo Schools programme mentors and supports girls (aged 13 years and upwards) on option choices and their career development using a blended learning approach. This involves a 3-hour workshop, in addition to online learning through Cajigo (an App), and guidance and support from role models and industry mentors.

And that’s where you could come in!

Mentoring gives students access to visible and relatable female role models who help to inspire, motivate and signpost careers.

Cajigo also offers support to women in the workplace, career changers, returners and University students.

If you are keen to offer support in mentoring the next generation of female engineers and digital technologists, please contact Rav Bumbra, who’ll talk you through the process – team@cajigo.com

Cajigo is the social learning and development arm of Structur3dpeople, a company that helps organisations attract and retain diverse talent and focuses on supporting more women into STEM, digital and leadership careers.