Year of Engineering celebrated at Westminster Abbey

Posted on

As 2018, the Year of Engineering, draws to a close, the contribution of engineering and engineers to society was recognised yesterday (22nd November 2018) in a national celebration at Westminster Abbey.

The service, led by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, marked the government’s Year of Engineering and the bicentenary of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and shone a spotlight on the contribution the profession makes to inspiring the next generation. It was the first of its kind and jointly organised by HM Government, ICE, and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), funder of our Women Like Me project supporting women and girls in engineering.

 

Roma Agrawal MBE, Associate Director at AECOM, and Colonel Deborah Porter, Deputy Commander of the Defence Medical Group, gave testimonies on how engineering had changed their lives and enabled them to help and inspire others through their work. Children from local schools were invited to attend, with reflection on how industry and government have joined forces throughout 2018 to bring engineering to life for young people from all backgrounds – and the importance of this continuing in 2019 and beyond.

You can find out more, including quotes from Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, ICE President Andrew Wyllie CBE and President of the Royal Academy of Engineers Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS from the UK Government, details of the service from Westminster Abbey, and contents of the talks from The Engineer. Images are from the reports linked.

“Engineering is a hugely diverse profession open to all”

Posted on

Our Women Like Me engineer Eleanor Davies, structural engineer at BuroHappold, gave a very successful Leaders AwardMeet an Engineer‘ interview for the Leaders Award on 21st November. Eleanor told us more about her experience of giving the presentation in her guest post below. 

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to talk to over 1300 children at primary school about what engineering is and what I do. Primary Engineer Leaders Award uses video calls to allow engineers to explain what they do to children and answer their questions in real time. This is a great way to engage many more children than simply going into one classroom, and to give them an understanding of what engineers actually look like and do. This is especially powerful at a young age when children are still curious about the world around them and stereotypes have not been formed.

 

In particular, I really enjoyed answering the many insightful questions asked. It definitely brought back good memories of damming streams on the beach in Wales, watching Megastructures on TV and gave me a chance to reflect on my career so far. Hopefully, it also showed that engineering is a hugely diverse profession open to all. It offers amazing opportunities to apply maths and science to solve real world problems and to come up with tangible solutions that you can be proud of.

Engineers who would like to support Primary Engineer / The Leaders Award can find out more here. Schools which would like to participate in Meet an Engineer interviews can find more information here.

Women Like Me engineer Eleanor Davies presents to 1334 children for Leaders Awards

Posted on

UWE Bristol is delighted to be supporting the Primary Engineer and Secondary Engineer Leaders Awards again this year, and even more pleased that some of our Women Like Me engineers are taking part in online ‘Meet an Engineer‘ interviews with school students around the UK as part of this.

Eleanor Davies, a structural engineer at BuroHappold, is one of those engineers and is currently presenting online to 1334 children. So successfully, that the Leaders Awards would like her to come back!

 

 

You can find out more about the Leaders Awards in the video below, or by visiting their website.

“Working towards a world where we can all do what we are passionate about”

Posted on

As we were delighted to announce last week, our Women Like Me participant Jessica Poole Mather of Rolls Royce won the WISE One to Watch Award on 15th November. In this guest post, Jess tells us more about how she got to where she is and her experiences so far as a woman in engineering.

As a small child, I don’t think I would ever have thought I would be given an award for my stubbornness, for doing jigsaw puzzles, and existing so completely in my own fantasy world that I would talk to beetles and birds over other children. Looking back, I wonder now if I had been a boy, maybe I would have been called “adventurous”, or “independent”, or even “scientific”.

I’m now 23, and I’m an engineer at Rolls-Royce, stubborn as ever, now around changing perceptions of women in science, and working towards my dream world where we’re not destroying our planet with its own resources, and where people’s careers are pursued not because of how they’re labelled but because of what they want to do.

I was lucky enough to attend the WISE Awards this year, winning the One To Watch award alongside Alexandra Lawson, an engineer at Shell. We were both overexcited and stunned, and it only added to the confusion that I don’t think either of us spends much time wearing high heels – walking up the stairs to the stage was perhaps more challenging than it should have been.

Growing up, throughout university, and since I’ve started work I’ve had the most incredible support network and role models, particularly my mum. I admit I was a little nervous going to start work at a large corporation as an engineer, when my degree had been in chemistry and I knew I would be one of the only women on the team. I won’t say I haven’t had any negative experiences, but those have been easily outweighed by some extremely positive ones, including a series of phenomenal line managers who always seemed to back me to do anything, and two brilliant mentors who I could go to for support.

In turn, I’m trying my best to do my bit to help other women into STEM. I’ve taken on multiple mentoring schemes, spoken at outreach events and careers fairs to children of a range of ages and to university students. Unfortunately, I occasionally catch my own unconscious bias where I’ve ended up talking about STEM to girls at these events more than boys!

The WISE campaign is an incredible scheme, made up of a group of people I’m extremely proud to be a part of, all working towards the same goal: diversity and inclusion in the workplace, whether that’s gender, race or physical or neurological disabilities, and working towards a world where we can all do what we are passionate about.

UK on target to reach 1 million women in STEM by 2020 – but work is still to be done

Posted on

The WISE Awards on 15th November saw the announcement that new research by WISE has revealed that the UK is on track to have 1 million women working in core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles by 2020.

The report on workplace statistics in 2018 shows that there are over 900,000 women working in STEM in the UK at present. Based on current enrolment of women on A level, degree and equivalent courses, a further 200,000 women with STEM qualifications are predicted to enter the workforce within the next two years.

WISE reported that “in her welcome speech, HRH, The Princess Royal, said the WISE goal of reaching 1 million women in STEM was within reach if employers could recruit just half of the 200,000 thousand girls estimated to be studying STEM subjects. She also said it was very important to continue to encourage girls to be curious and explore the opportunities opened by science, technology and engineering.”

According to the report, almost 58,000 (12%) women are working as professional engineers. This is more than double the number in 2013, which is excellent news.

However, there is still work to be done; due to an increase in men also entering STEM roles, there was a 0.3% drop in the percentage of women in the core STEM workforce and growth for women is 1% lower than the growth percentage for men.

Our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me is supported by WISE and supports the recruitment of women into engineering, and retention of women in engineering roles, via tiered mentoring which sees senior women engineers support junior women engineers, who in turn undertake outreach as role models for girls. These statistics are both encouraging and demonstrate that work such as ours is vital.

You can find more statistics from the WISE report here and read more about related speeches at the WISE Awards here.

Figures showing numbers of women in STEM sourced from the 2018 WISE report on workplace statistics.

Women Like Me engineer Jessica Poole Mather wins WISE One to Watch Award

Posted on

We were delighted to hear that our Women Like Me engineer Jessica Poole Mather was announced as winner of the ‘One to Watch’ Award at the WISE Awards on 15th November.

Jessica, who is undertaking outreach activities with us as part of Women Like Me, is an Engineering Graduate Trainee at Rolls-Royce PLC. She was chosen for the award alongside Alexandra Lawson, Operations Supervisor at Shell.

The award, sponsored by Intel, looked “to identify young women aged 25 and under on the date of the Awards, 15 November 2018, who are working to change the image of girls and women working in STEM. This Award is designed to identify and share stories of girls and young women who are passionate about STEM and good at what they do – not just when studying or at work but throughout day-to-day lives too.”

WISE reported that the judges could not come to a conclusion on “one to watch” as there were clearly “two to watch” that stood out as ultimate winners, and agreed that combining this dynamic duo with their unique individual strengths and passion would be a winning team for WISE and taking STEM initiatives to the next level as true ambassadors.

Congratulations to Jess from the Women Like Me team!

ASE Girls into Science resources and making a difference

Posted on

The Association for Science Education (ASE) website offers a range of girls into science‘ resources, with articles from leading women in science, primary activities, and global projects. These are a useful resource for anyone wanting to encourage girls to think about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects as relevant to them, including the engineers taking part in our Women Like Me programme for supporting women and girls in engineering.

Still too low

“The overall proportion of girls taking physics A-level has remained stubbornly close to 20% for the last three decades.”

“Girls perform just as well as boys in physics at GCSE. However, in 2016, only 1.9% of girls chose A-level physics, compared to 6.5% of boys. This represents 5,669 girls compared to 21,032 boys.” – Why Not Physics? Report from IOP, 2018  

 Statistics and the arguments are laid out in the September issue of ASE’s Education in Science, in an article on the Institute of Physics’ work in the area.

Could your school make a difference for girls in STEM?

The Department for Education (DfE) and the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) are looking for state-funded secondary schools to test interventions to get more girls to take STEM A-levels. The pilot is promised not to be burdensome and participating schools can access free resources, targeted interventions and a bespoke report on how they can inspire girls. Email: kathryn.atherton@bi.team

Women’s Engineering Society Industry Mentoring Scheme launches at UWE Bristol

Posted on

Final year female students in Engineering and related disciplines at UWE Bristol are to receive mentoring from professionals in industry through a Women’s Engineering Society (WES) scheme.

A group of students planning to take up employment after they graduate will be supported by an external mentor who will guide them in considering their options and help them to make a successful transition from University to work.

The free programme is launching at UWE Bristol on 22nd November 2018 with training introduce the WES scheme, discussing matching with mentors, and explaining how to get the best out of the scheme. It complements our Royal Academy of Engineering funded Women Like Me programme for female engineers post-graduation by providing mentoring for female undergraduate engineers.

Mentoring is provided through the Women’s Engineering Society and is funded by a grant from the Arconic Foundation.

Old and new generations of roboticists come together at Bristol Women in Robotics meet-up

Posted on

This is a guest post by Dr Antonia Tzemanaki from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, who coordinates the Bristol Women in Robotics group. Women in Robotics Bristol/South West is part of a global professional network for women in robotics, such as our very own Women Like Me engineer Pavlina Theodosiouand women who want to be. They promote the visibility of women in robotics.

The most recent meet-up of the Bristol Women in Robotics group took place on Thursday 8th November 2018. 14 women attended, including staff from UWE Bristol, the University of Bristol and OpenBionics as well as new MSc and PhD students. It was a great mix between older and newer generations of roboticists and topics included internships, exchanging help on application writing and discussing future collaborations among others.

The next meetup will take place in the next couple of months, make sure to subscribe to our emailing list if you are interested and join our Slack channel. Ideas for events are always welcome!

You can also follow Bristol Women in Robotics on Twitter.

Show of Strength’s story of Sarah Guppy inspires in Bristol and Monmouth

Posted on

Show of Strength‘s Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth has been showing this week in Bristol and Monmouth, opening to a full house and great reception.

In the Year of Engineering and Centenary of Women’s Suffrage, the show tells the story of Sarah Guppy, an engineer, inventor, campaigner, designer, reformer, writer, environmentalist and business woman.

Sarah moved to Bristol in 1795 when she married merchant Samuel Guppy. She supported Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was the mother of (along with another five children) Thomas Guppy, who worked with Brunel on many projects, including the SS Great Britain.

She was the first woman to formally designed and patent bridge, along with inventing other creations, such as an early teasmade which cooked eggs in its steam and an exercise bed. Sarah also mentored Brunel with his winning entry to design a bridge to span the Avon Gorge – the now iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The show drew many parallels with the present day and explicitly links Sarah’s achievements to the challenges experienced by women today, asking them to build on her pioneering steps. There was even a mention for some of our Women Like Me participants as shining examples of women currently shaping the future of engineering in Bristol. And Storysmith Books, Bristol’s new independent bookshop, were inspired by the show to create a display of books featuring women in STEM. Almost 250 years after her birth, Sarah Guppy continues to light the way for women in engineering.