23rd Jun 2021
Let’s Talk: International Women In Engineering Day 2021 (IWED)
This week, in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) – a global awareness campaign launched by the Womens Engineering Society (WES), which aims to raise the profile of women in engineering – we spoke to our team to get their views on gender equality within engineering and to understand what this year’s theme, ‘Engineering Heroes’, means to them.
Applications Engineer – Ailish Hepburn
“I have three key engineering legends,” says Ailish Hepburn, Applications Engineer at Farrat. “Ada Lovelace was a female mathematician and invented the first computer. Alice Parker was an African American woman who created the first central heating system. Emily Roebling led the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
These engineers inspire me because they challenged social expectations and created inventions that changed the world for the better. All three women recognised a problem and then created the solution. Their contributions helped establish female roles within engineering.”
Senior Applications Engineer – Dan Warren
“Admittedly I have never really had any engineering heroes or role models, male or female.
But when considering gender balance, I’ve been fortunate enough to know, learn alongside and work with incredibly talented women in engineering roles across some fantastic technical projects.
I believe that the balance is slowly shifting, with STEM professions not being as male dominated as they perhaps used to be.”
Project Delivery Manager – Adriana Leotta
“I’ve had several strong female role models in my life. My mum – before retiring – was a maths teacher at a primary school. She noticed that I liked symbols and numbers from an early age and taught me how to count and understand basic math equations before I started school. In high school, my science teacher had a strong guiding influence on me. She understood that I loved numbers and science and encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone.
I also had an incredible teacher at University, who is still teaching Structural Analysis. The vibes she spread around the room during lessons were incredible. Whilst at University she was my role model, and I knew that I want to be like her. My ultimate engineering legend is Amelia Earhart, who was technically an aviator not an ‘engineer’. Her achievements piloting independently for so far as a trailblazer for women, makes her a legend to me”.
CEO – Oliver Farrell
“At Farrat we’re pleased to have a diverse workforce with all genders well represented. It’s also why we offer mentoring and work experience wherever possible to demonstrate that an engineering environment should no longer be considered a male environment. I have three daughters, and I’d like to think that every career is open to them. That’s how the next generation of girls should feel, and I’d love to see the numbers even out in engineering. Gender diversity – as with all diversity – makes for a more creative, productive and fun working environment.”
INWED began in the UK in 2014 as a national campaign from the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). Since then, INWED has grown enormously, receiving UNESCO patronage in 2016 and going truly global the following year.
The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is an English charity, founded in 1919 at the end of the First World War, when women who had been employed in technical fields found it difficult, if not impossible, to continue working as engineers. A change in the law to return women engineers to the home just as their sisters were admitted into the civil service and legal professions, led to the establishment of WES by pioneering and influential women.
WES has worked tirelessly for over a hundred years to ensure equality for women in engineering. Today WES’ mission is to support women in engineering to fulfil their potential and support the engineering industry to be inclusive.
The aim of INWED campaigns is to encourage all groups to think about organising their own activities in support of the day and link them together for maximum impact using the INWED logo/campaign, corresponding website, and supporting resources.
Latest ‘Women in Engineering’ Stats
The news in 2020 that the number of women applying for engineering courses has nearly doubled in the last 10 years demonstrated encouraging progress towards closing the gender gap in the field of engineering. However, the number of women studying engineering compared to men is still very low.
In 2020, there were 119,250 male applicants to engineering courses, and just 29,200 female applicants. This is a challenge that we see across STEM professions in general.
When surveying the number of women working in STEM professions in Europe, of the 36 countries examined – which include non-EU states such as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey – only six had 50% or over of female scientists or engineers.
So, whilst there has been much development recently – an increase in applications, a growing level of interest and strong female role models – there is still a long way to go. Farrat are looking to work hard at all levels to ensure that progress in equality continues within engineering.