BAME girls in engineering launches with great success

Posted on

Following the initiation of his new project, BAME girls in engineering, Dr Udonna Okeke tells us about the success of its first school visits in this guest post.

My team and I had our first two school visits for the project at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple Secondary School and City Academy, Bristol. We were involved in workshop presentations and also shared our individual experiences to motivate and inspire the students.

Indeed, we recorded a great success and some of the feedback we received includes:

“It was noticed that the first thing the girls related to you all was regarding identity. This became a platform of introduction/ an ice-breaker, where-by discussing which part of Africa you were from, in relation to their own backgrounds allowed for a rapport to have been built between your groups very quickly”

“This is fun’ ‘Are we going to get to do this again? Can we?”

“Engagement was fantastic. Groups of around 5 or 6 per facilitator made it more valuable. They were asked to think about their personal barriers to success, where they want to be in 5-10 years, how they will get there”.

“Each facilitator had a personal success story, so they were able to share that, they were calm, engaging and clearly knew how to work with this age group”.

“Lots of laughter, good contributions, no behaviour problems, the girls did CAB proud”.

In 2019, I look forward to more school visits, mentorship meetings, industry visits and the success stories that will follow.

Engineers from UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering Society excited to be building Leaders Award winning design

Posted on
A team of UWE Bristol engineering students:

have now picked one of the winning designs from this year’s Leaders Award to turn into reality. The team are part of UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering student society and Katy is also a participant in our Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project supporting women and girls in engineering.

The team picked the design of Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. The team will be visiting Philippa’s school in February to discuss the design with her and deliver engineering outreach for her class.
Georgina and Olesya tell us how they’re looking forward to getting started, in this video made by Miriam:

Women Like Me engineer Jess Henson on her role and women in engineering

Posted on

Our Women Like Me engineer Jess Henson, a Development Engineer at Renishaw‘s Neurological Products Division, has been featured recently in publications such as Education in Science, Future Magazine and Engineer’s Journal, talking about her role, how she got there and women in engineering. Renishaw have kindly allowed us to reproduce their interview with Jess in full here. 

Renishaw celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

The global engineering technologies company Renishaw is hosting a number of activities this year to promote engineering as a positive career choice for women, including an activity day for young women and their parents, readings of the new ‘Little Miss Inventor’ book at local primary schools and a special cinema evening for the movie ‘Hidden Figures’.

Renishaw has over 130 trained STEM Ambassadors, a third of whom are women, including Jess Henson, a Development Engineer at the company’s Neurological Products Division who answers a series of questions about her role and women in engineering:


What inspired you to become an engineer?

At school I always enjoyed science, particularly the practical experiments, where you get the chance to apply what you’ve learnt from a textbook. I also enjoyed art, although at the time I didn’t appreciate how this would help me in an engineering career with creativity and problem solving. Going on an engineering experience event was a key moment in understanding what an engineering career would actually be like.


What is biomedical engineering?

Applying engineering principles to the body and to healthcare is the fundamental aspect of biomedical engineering. For example, studying forces and how they relate to the movement of a prosthetic arm, or applying fluid movement to determine the blood flow in arteries.

Biomedical engineering isn’t a well-known field. In general, people think engineering is mechanical or electrical, but it is so much more.


How did you find out about biomedical engineering?

I’d never heard of biomedical engineering until I came across it in a university prospectus.

When I discovered it, I realised I could combine my biology, maths, physics and art and apply my skills to solving real life problems.

It seemed a more hands on and multidisciplinary subject than pure maths on its own.

I went on to study biomedical engineering at Imperial College London, before taking on a graduate role at Renishaw. During my graduate training, I completed rotations around the company, taking up a role in the Spectroscopy Products Division testing a new pharmaceutical analyser and a role in the Medical and Dental Products Division rebranding a product as a medical device. I also worked in the Neurological Products Division for a year, looking at how to make brain surgery more efficient.


What does your job involve day-to-day?

I’m a Development Engineer at Renishaw’s Neurological Products Division, where I design, develop and test new products for brain surgery. This combines skills from biology, maths and physics, as well as the creative skills learnt from art. For example, I’ve used trigonometry to calculate surgical trajectories – something I could never have imagined during my maths lessons at school.

At the moment I’m working on the development of a new device to attach onto the end of our neurosurgical robot, which in combination with other new devices we hope will extend and enhance the lives of cancer patients. This a very rewarding area where I’ll be able to see how my work will affect people’s lives.


What is your advice to young women considering engineering careers?

Choosing what you want to study can be scary. The best way to narrow it down is to gain experience. To keep your options open I’d suggest choosing either science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects or a STEM apprenticeship.

Girls shouldn’t be put off by the stereotypes.

There is a broad range of engineering careers out there from designers to customer facing roles. I’d recommend an apprenticeship or graduate placement at a company like Renishaw where you can experience a range of positions across different company divisions.

People are often surprised when I tell them I am an engineer. After all, only nine per cent of engineers in the UK are female. If we want this to change we need more girls to study physics, engineering and maths and a greater awareness of the scope of engineering careers, which many may be surprised to discover stretches to brain surgery.  We need to inform parents, teachers and young people what engineering really is and how they can apply what they are learning first hand.

UK-based Renishaw is a world leading engineering technologies company, supplying products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. It has over 4,500 employees located in the 35 countries where it has wholly owned subsidiary operations.

This interview (or parts of it) has been used in print in: Education in Science, Future Magazine and the WES Autumn newsletter and online by: The Engineer, Ed Quarter, Education Technology, Engineer’s Journal, Machines 4 Sale, Machine Building and the WES Autumn newsletter.

Panel discussion: Speak Up against violence and abuse

Posted on

This is a guest post by Ana Miguel Lazaro, Student Inclusivity Project Officer at UWE Bristol. Ana is part of UWE’s SpeakUp campaign, which aims to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable – and is asking you to #SpeakUp if you see or hear something that’s not right, and be an active bystander.

Monday 26th November, 15:00-17:00, Bristol Business School, 4X113, Frenchay campus

In recognition of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November 2018), UWE Bristol is hosting a panel discussion to continue conversations around violence and abuse.

A new campaign called SpeakUp has been launched to help UWE Bristol students and staff speak up and report unacceptable behaviour such as harassment, discrimination and violence. SpeakUp has been introduced this term to raise awareness and prevent these types of incidents on campus.

Join us to:

  • Hear from our UWE Bristol panel of experts in the field and ask them questions
  • Learn about the SpeakUp Campaign and collect your SpeakUp badge
  • Enjoy the refreshments

The panel includes Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost Jane Harrington, Professor of Criminology Kieran McCartan, Associate Head of Department Research – Education and Childhood Helen Bovill and Chief Executive of White Ribbon UK Anthea Sully.

Please register for this event via Jotform as spaces are limited.

Unable to attend? Learn more about the SpeakUp campaign on the UWE Bristol website, or sign the White Ribbon Pledge to end male violence against women.

“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 in Research Mentoring Scheme event for UWE Bristol academic staff

Posted on
Monday 3rd December 2018, 12:00 – 14:00
Please see staff intranet for location
Come along to find out more about the Women in Research Mentoring Scheme and how you can get involved as a mentee/mentor and hear first hand accounts from current mentees/mentors.

Booking information

Please register to attend

Event details

This lunchtime event is open to any member of UWE academic staff and will begin with lunch and informal networking followed by presentations.

If you are not currently a WRMS member, feel free to come along and find out more about the scheme from the Chair, Harriet Shortt and how you can get involved as a mentor/mentee.

For more details about the scheme please see the UWE Bristol website.

If you are currently a WRMS member, please come along to network.

Listen to our keynote speaker, Amy Armstrong, an experienced coach, who will be talking about the value of mentoring, how a good mentoring relationship works and why mentoring for women can create a positive space for women.

Hear first-hand accounts, from one of our current mentors and mentees, about their experiences of being members of the WRMS.

Please register to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

Biography: Amy Armstrong specialises in enabling leaders and their teams to excel under stress. Formerly a director of fast growing business in the EdTech sector, Amy combines 15 years of leadership and high-performance business, with extensive experience as an executive coach and clinical hypnotherapist. She has a deep interest in how we face and master the human challenges of work, and enjoys working with a diverse range of Bristol’s leaders, founders and rising stars to develop habits of sustainable success through calm, confidence and clarity.

For further information including location and detailed timings:

UWE Bristol events page (staff only)


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!