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

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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

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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

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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!

Women Like Me launch event – becoming a leader in engineering

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Women Like Me has officially launched!

On 18th October we brought together our female engineers from around the Bristol and Bath region, who will be either mentoring other engineers, or undertaking outreach and public engagement activities with schools and communities to raise uptake and retention of women in engineering, and inspire the next generation.

It was a busy and rewarding day, and this is what we got up to.

Welcome Training – Becoming a Leader in Engineering

We started the day by welcoming our junior engineers, who joined us from a range of companies in the Bristol and Bath region. After introductions to each other and the scheme by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, our first training session, delivered by Dr Laura Hobbs focused on STEM outreach, public engagement and working with schools. What is it, why do we do it and how do we go about it?

 

We then facilitated STEM Ambassador registration for our volunteers, and get together for an exchange of outreach ideas. Our senior engineers, who will be mentoring our junior engineers, joined us at lunch time ready for a packed afternoon. After meeting each other, mentors and mentees received an introduction to role modelling from Laura Fogg Rogers, followed by a session on mentoring for women by UWE’s Dr Harriet Short.

 

 

Participants brought with them something that represents what mentoring means to them, with lots of discussion to be had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The engineer training closed with bespoke training on Leadership in Engineering from Wide Eyed Group‘s Caroline Morris, looking at the role of leaders, and how our leadership style can be used to encourage and influence others. We explored what it takes to be vulnerable and true to yourself, and how your unique qualities help your own leadership style.

Professionals from across the region then met to discuss science education, outreach, women in STEM and more, with the opportunity to receive free People Like Me taster training from WISE‘s Sarah Behenna.

If you have any questions about Curiosity Connections – Women Like Me or would like to support the project, please get in touch at engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

Join us for the Women Like Me launch!

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Supporting women and girls in engineering

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project for women in engineering, based at the University of the West of England (UWE), supported by the WISE Bristol Hub and STEM Ambassador Hub West England and funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant.

Women Like Me launches at UWE on 18th October. Join the project’s engineers for an evening of FREE People Like Me taster training from WISE’s Sarah Behenna, followed by networking with professionals from across the region.

Booking is essential – sign up here.

For more information or to get involved with Women Like Me, please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.