There’s not just one way to succeed in engineering

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Lisa Brodie is head of the Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM)department at UWE Bristol, and so is responsible for all of the flourishing student programs and research centres. In honour of Tomorrow Engineer’s week – a week dedicated to inspire more young people to consider careers in engineering, Lisa tells Engineering our Future why she likes working in EDM and how she is developing the engineering curriculum to make it more inclusive.

Why would you recommend engineering to young people?

There is this perception that you have to have a certain kind of skill and be a certain type of person to be an engineer, but I don’t believe that’s the case. So don’t be put off, just have a go at it, because it’s such a rewarding profession to be in. For me engineering is about being able to make a difference in the world through solving problems, both local and global.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

In the role I’m in, I get the chance to really make a difference. We are changing the way we teach engineering, and because I’m the head of department I have the unique opportunity to drive these changes.

What changes are you making?

We are developing our curriculum so that it’s more inclusive, ensuring that anybody, from any background, can find a way into this career.

I think historically the education system precludes certain types of people from being successful, because it’s heavily examined and a lot of young people don’t find that an easy process to go through. We are trying to create a curriculum with a range of different methods to assess students, so that regardless of background and qualification, there’s the opportunity to succeed.

EDM has recently been re-awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Medal for gender equality. This recognises the diversity of the department, as well as the efforts ensuring gender inclusivity and enabling female progression.

It’s our mission as a department to really make a difference getting women into engineering

Given her success as a female engineer, we asked Lisa how EDM practices have helped her balance work with caring for her three children and elderly mother?

I first came to UWE as a research associate on a fractional contract, and I’ve only been able to work my way through the different roles because of the supportive, flexible culture that exists here for family life and people who have caring responsibilities.

The working practice within the university and EDM is very flexible

There’s no denying that engineering needs a change of image that is vital to encourage young people to fill the engineering skills and diversity shortfall in the UK. In a bid to overcome the overturn the narrow stereotype of engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering have today launched their image library demonstrating the diversity of the profession – see if you can spot Lisa and other engineers in the department!

UWE has also signed the below pledge to make representative images of engineers and engineering more visible to the public.

Bristol’s very own Tech Fair

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Bristol’s Tech Fair, celebrating local tech, engineering and science, is coming to Colston Hall on Saturday 9th November, 10am – 4pm.

It’s a lively carnival of family fun activities, careers advice and diversity inspiration – get free tickets for you and you family on Eventbrite.

There’s a Family and Kids Zone full day of Virtual Reality, Programming and Robotics with loads of local exhibitors, including UWE!

And for those of you involved in outreach and inclusion, the fair is also hosting the WISE conference. WISE is all about enabling and energising women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and they have an inspiring line up planned for the conference……Including, the UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics’ departments very own – Laura Fogg-Rogers.

Fogg-Rogers will be speaking about UWE’s Women Like Me mentoring project, which connects women engineers with more experienced women in the field.

Finally, there’s a tech careers fair, for anyone who wants a sneak peak into what’s out there in the South West.

The tech fair is part of the Bristol Technology Festival, which is running from Monday 4th to Sunday 10th of November.

Women Like Me relaunches for 2019-20

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Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. Is this enough?

No, it’s really not – we have an engineering skills shortage as it is, and the low proportion of women in the workforce means that a whole pool of talent is going untapped. Girls need to be able to see engineering as for them, connect with it as career and have access to positive female role models. And in turn, women need to feel supported to make a difference in the workplace once they get there, so that they not only go into, but stay in engineering roles.

To do something about that and bring people together, we launched ‘Women Like Me’, a project to open doors to girls and build resilience for women in engineering and funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious scheme, last year at UWE Bristol.

The project was a huge success – we paired 21 mid-career (senior) women engineers with 21 junior women engineers (less than five years’ experience) in the Bristol and Bath area, in order to provide career and public engagement mentoring. The junior engineers took part in outreach activities resulting in over 10,240 children being engaged in with women engineers, through a variety of methods including school visits, public events and nationwide online presentations. After participating, engineers felt much more confident to undertake education outreach, and more likely to continue public engagement following the project. 

You can read more about the outcomes of Women Like Me in 2018-2019 in this blog post and in the project report.

Building on the achievements of the first year, Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers will once again be running the project over the next year; we both have lots of experience of delivering outreach and engagement projects and are passionate about making Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths accessible to everyone, at all stages.

If you are interested in taking part in Women Like Me in 2019-20, please read on to find out who can take part and how to apply.

Supporting women and girls in engineering

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. So what does that actually mean?

The project will pair senior women engineers with junior women engineers to give them mentoring support as they start out in their engineering careers. In turn, junior women will 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.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the Bristol and Bath area can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers have been working in engineering for more than five years. Junior women engineers are those with less than five years, and can include apprentices, trainees, students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants during the project. Senior engineers will receive training in mentoring and meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project.

Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities in local schools and at local public events. Activities and coordination of events is provided and supported by UWE; participation is voluntary and we’ll cover travel expenses.

How can I find out more or sign up?

To apply for a place on this year’s programme, please complete the relevant enrolment form:

Women Like Me 2019-20 Junior engineer enrolment

Women Like Me 2019-20 Senior engineer enrolment

For more information, please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk. You can also follow the project on Twitter for updates.

Women Like Me is based in the Science Communication Unit and Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE). The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers. By matching senior and junior female engineers and supporting junior engineers to connect with the children and young people as the engineers of tomorrow, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

The successes of Women Like Me 2018-2019

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In 2018, Women Like Me launched at UWE as a tiered mentoring project for women in engineering. Delivered by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, the project was a great success, engaging over 10,000 children with engineering outreach and significantly improving engineers’ confidence. Some findings of the first year’s project report are summarised here.

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. For democratic, utilitarian and equity reasons this is not enough. Both recruitment and retention are important – more girls need to connect with engineering as a creative, socially conscious, collaborative discipline, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace. 


Funded in 2018-2019 by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant, the ‘Curiosity Connections – Women Like Me’ project aimed to change this through tiered mentoring and role modelling. Previous research by Laura Fogg-Rogers indicates how important peer group and leadership support is for women, providing vicarious experience and changing social norms. This means that women need peer support to thrive in the workplace, and that girls need to see women succeeding in STEM careers in order to feel that engineering is for them. 


This project therefore paired 21 mid-career (senior) women engineers with 21 junior women engineers (less than five years’ experience) in the Bristol and Bath area, in order to provide career and public engagement mentoring. The outreach activities resulted in over 10,240 children being engaged in public engagement with women engineers, through a variety of methods including school visits, public events and nationwide online presentations. 

Junior engineers felt significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement


The junior engineers reported that they now feel significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement; 54% of junior engineers felt fairly well equipped before the project and this increased to 68% after the project, with 38% indicating they were very well equipped. Similarly, the mean score on the Engineering Outreach Self-Efficacy Scale significantly improved from 6.80 to 8.41 (out of 10). This indicates that the engineers are now much more confident to undertake education outreach, and are then more likely to continue public engagement following the project. 

The report therefore concludes that mentoring is highly important to ensure a supportive workplace, which means that women are more likely to be retained in the engineering industry.

The full report can be downloaded from the UWE research repository and a paper in Journal of Science Communication, drawing on the results, is now available (open access).

Women Like Me will relaunch in October 2019. To express an interest in taking part, please register your email address here.

Winning Leaders Award prototype unveiled at exhibition at UWE Bristol

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Last year, Hugh Sexy CE Middle School student Philippa Griffiths designed the Red Line Braking System for the Leaders Award competition, in response to the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

The Leaders Award sets this challenge to encourage children to identify a problem that engineering could solve, and devise a solution. Philippa’s invention was picked as a winning design for the South West, and then selected to be turned into a working prototype by a team of UWE Bristol engineers. Philippa’s design displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Our team of female student engineers from the university’s Women in Science and Engineering Society, including some taking part in our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me, turned Philippa’s idea into reality, visiting her school during the process and providing updates as they went.

Our team are:

The prototype was unveiled at the South West Leaders Award exhibition at UWE Bristol on Friday 14th June 2019 by Philippa, Katy and Miriam. The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, was also on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

Congratulations to Philippa and the team for designing and creating a fantastic new engineering solution!

EDM staff attend WISE conference

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On 14th May, Lecturer in Engineering Management Dr Udonna Okeke and Research Fellow and Women Like Me coordinator Dr Laura Hobbs attended the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) conference in London.

Hosted at the IET, the 2019 conference offered delegates a range of keynote speakers, plenary and panel sessions and breakout workshops. Highlights included insights into how women job hunt, the plasticity of our brains and the complexity of ethics in robotics and AI. Sessions can now be viewed online.

Udonna was able to make some useful connections for his project BAME Girls in Engineering, while Laura was able to discuss the new platform to support girls in STEM, My Skills My Life, with our Women Like Me partners from WISE.

Women Like Me featured by Bristol Women’s Voice

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Bristol Women’s Voice have featured our Women Like Me project, run by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, on their blog.

Bristol Women’s Voice is a powerful voice for women making women’s equality in Bristol a reality. They make sure that when key decisions are taken in the city women’s voices have been heard and their concerns acted upon, working to increase awareness of women’s rights and to make sure services meet women’s needs. They bring women together to share ideas and experiences, support campaigns and celebrate success so that together we can make Bristol a showcase for women’s involvement, empowerment and equality.

Our work was highlighted in the blog as

“Revisiting and rewriting a traditionally male-dominated and gendered history has never been more topical and this initiative has help ensure that female engineers and in other STEM roles, past and present, are afforded the recognition that they deserve.”

We are very proud to that Engineering our Future and Women Like Me have been highlighted! The full post can be read here.

Exploring the concept of Emotional Intelligence with Women Like Me

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In our public event at Bristol and Bath Science Park today, as part of Women Like Me’s closing event for this round, we are exploring the concept of emotional intelligence with Caroline Morris of Wide Eyed Group Leadership Consultancy.

Caroline recently wrote a great blog for us about Emotional Intelligence; read all about it here.

WES-UWE Wikithon underway!

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The joint WES-UWE Wikithon, part of the WES Centenary celebrations, is currently underway at Bristol and Bath Science Park.

Volunteers are editing Wikipedia to increase visibility of women in STEM.

Don’t forget: UWE women in STEM events tomorrow

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There’s still time to sign up for two FREE events, hosted by UWE at the Bristol and Bath Science Park tomorrow (please note the change of venue; these events were originally scheduled to be held at UWE):

Women Like Me – Boosting mentoring for women in STEM in the West of England

Wednesday 3rd April, 12:00-14:00

This event brings together our leading players in women’s mentoring across the West of England, to explore how we can support each other and learn from best practice. Organised by UWE Bristol’s Women Like Me project for engineering mentoring, the network also connects with Women in Science and Engineering Bristol, the Women’s Engineering Society centenary and Curiosity Connections Bristol.

Extraordinary Women in Engineering: A WES Wikithon – UWE Bristol

Wednesday 3rd April: Training 09:30-10:00 | Wikithon drop in 10:00-14:00

Come and join us to develop your digital skills and learn more about editing Wikipedia. Help to celebrate brilliant women engineers by creating and improving their pages on the world’s favourite online historical record.

Complete beginners and experienced editors, all are welcome to attend – we’ll provide training for anyone new to editing. If you already have some wiki editing experience, we can help you improve your skills and learn a few new tricks. If you’ve spotted an article that needs improving, bring along your queries and we’ll see what we can do to help. Suggestions for articles to improve and create will also be provided, along with research resources.