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 11% 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, with 54% of junior engineers feeling fairly well equipped before the project, but 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.

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.

Sarah Guppy show and women in STEM panel discussion recorded for schools

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Back in November, Show of Strength‘s production about Sarah Guppy – engineer, inventor, campaigner, designer, reformer, writer, environmentalist and business woman – opened to great reviews.

These included comments such as:

“You won’t look at Isambard Kingdom Brunel or the Clifton Suspension Bridge in quite the same way ever again after seeing this piece.”

and:

“An inspiring and witty homage to someone who deserves a far more central place in Bristol’s – and Britain’s – commercial and industrial history.”

and crucially:

“Please find a way of getting this into every school in Bristol.”

Which is what Show of Strength, in collaboration with UWE Bristol, Future Quest, Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, did yesterday.

Girls from Bristol Brunel Academy and Bristol Metropolitan Academy, coordinated by Future Quest’s Gemma Adams, attended an exclusive showing of Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth in UWE’s filming studio at the university’s Bower Ashton campus. The performance was filmed, thanks to UWE’s Abigail Davies, and followed by a panel discussion on women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which was also recorded so that both elements of yesterday’s production can be shown in schools.

The panel discussion was chaired by UWE’s Dr Madge Dresser, an expert in social and cultural British history, who recently put Sarah Guppy forward for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. On the panel were civil engineeer Trish Johnson (the first female Bridgemaster of Clifton Suspension Bridge), mechanical engineer Nicola Grahamslaw (Conservation Engineer for the SS Great Britain), mechanical engineer Rachel Gollin (who has extensive experience of engineering various sectors across the world), Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (Senior Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me), Dr Laura Hobbs (Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me) and Miriam Cristofoletti (Robotics student at UWE’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

“It’s still not great for women in STEM but at least we’re allowed to be engineers and scientists now!”

Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, UWE Bristol

Discussion ranged from why girls don’t choose STEM subjects to the best thing about an engineer and back again, via conversation about what engineers can expect to earn, how to get into engineering and more.

Feedback was positive – Future Quest described hearing from a panel of women in STEM and their thoughts and advice about their careers as

“both inspiring and thought provoking”

And it is hoped that the film will inspire many more school students in future.

Header image shows left to right: Trish Johnson (Clifton Suspension Bridge), Nicola Grahamslaw (SS Great Britain), Rachel Gollin, Kim Hicks as Sarah Guppy, Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (UWE Bristol), Dr Laura Hobbs (UWE Bristol), Miriam Cristofoletti (UWE Bristol), Sheila Hannon (Producer, Show of Strength), Dr Madge Dresser (UWE Bristol) and Gemma Adams (UWE Bristol/Future Quest).

Women Like Me engineer takes part in I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here

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Our Women Like Me participant and Atkins engineer Charlene Chung took part in the I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here competition earlier this month, answering children’s questions about engineering in the ‘Milligram Zone’.

I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here is an online event where school students connect with engineers. It’s an X Factor-style competition between engineers, where the students are the judges.

Students challenge the engineers over fast-paced online live CHATs. They ASK the engineers anything they want, and VOTE for their favourite engineer to win a prize of £500 to communicate their work with the public.

The Milligram Zone was a general engineering zone, where children could meet six engineers working in different areas. In her profile, Charlene described her work as a hydraulic modeller:

“I construct and investigate hydraulic models of sewer systems. Ever thought about what happens to the dirty water flushed from toilets, down from the kitchen, bathroom and utility rooms? Well I deal with that! I use computer and mapping software to investigate flood risk and flood mechanisms, ensuring that the sewer systems are fit for purpose and suitable for future growth.”

She reached hundreds of children and answered many questions about engineering – well done Charlene!

Engine Ears viewed over 300,000 times

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Back in November, Atkins engineer and Women Like Me participant Louise Hetherington wrote a blog post for us on Engine Ears, Atkins’ first STEM video for 7-11 year olds. The video has now been viewed more than 300,000 times and won an award, as fellow Atkins and Women Like Engineer Jess Batt tells us in this guest post.

In 2018, Atkins was involved in the UK Government’s Year of Engineering initiative which focused on helping people get to know what engineering is really like. As part of this work, we created Engine Ears – an animated film aimed at the engineers and designers of tomorrow, giving them an insight into the fascinating world of engineering.

In February, Engine Ears beat some stiff competition to win a RAD award in the ‘best single use of video’ category. The annual awards showcase the very best in recruitment communications and the judges were particularly impressed with the catchy song as well as the bright, appealing graphics.

The short film crossed a new frontier; its aim was to excite and inspire primary school children about engineering. It showcased how important engineers are to our daily life by showing what the world would be like if engineers did not exist, a world with no bridges, buildings or roads but more importantly – no Xbox or Nintendo.

Ellie Harte and Katie Cockerton from Atkins Talent Attraction team drove the project from inception, working very closely with film agency, Fifty One Films. “It’s a real honour to receive this award and we also want to say a special thanks to our STEM Ambassadors Vicky Stewart, Louise Hetherington and Kirsty Greener,” reflects Katie. “They provided invaluable feedback throughout the project, as did members of the ParentNet group who volunteered to show the first film drafts and lyrics to their children so that we could get first hand feedback from our target age group.”

The film has now been viewed over 300,000 times online. Every little bit helps in the quest to show young people just how exciting a career in engineering can be.