In celebration of National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) I was invited, on behalf of WESBath, to attend a British Gas Panel Event to celebrate this magnificent anniversary and discuss all matters of importance that surround it.
On 23rd June 2015, at the King’s Road, London location, a panel of inspiration female engineers assembled to discuss the future of Women in Engineering as well as what can be done to promote Women Engineers in the future. The panel consisted of Claire Miles (Managing Director of British Gas Homecare), Nadia Abbas (British Gas Engineer and Success Coach), Dr Arti Agarwal (Professor from the School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering at City University) and Dawn Bonfield (the President of our very own national Women’s Engineering Society) while the event was chaired by Dickson Ross (Editor of Engineering & Technology magazine).
For me, the event truly invigorated my motivation to promote engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects to younger female students. The topics of the ‘Challenges and opportunities for women in engineering’ and ‘Why aren’t women engineers aren’t celebrated?’ were deliberated in depth (videos of the matters discussed can be found on the following YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1RSxqLw7W4Y6a5hw5h2ZkT5u9niRCvXI)
Issues that only women would encounter in the work place were a key feature of the discussions which I found incredible intriguing because, as a final year student, as I will be heading into the working world in a few short months! Issues such as retention of female engineers after they’ve started families, ‘flexible working programs’, how to get children interested in engineering as well as the cliché allegation that ‘women distract men’ in the workplace all need to be challenged and changed – but how? Now that’s the important task we all need to work together to achieve.
Many thoughts of the panellists concerning these themes have been summarised in a British Gas blog:
The future of engineering is bright; especially for females. As the concept of engineering grows and changes so do the skills and requirements of engineers. The future holds untold opportunities including the combination of humanities, technology, ethics and engineering as well as data analytics, robotics, artificial technology and green technology. To increase the exposure of young females to engineering, the status quo must be defied while teachers and parents alike must encourage all their children into careers in STEM subjects. They are the future.
The panellists all agreed that we, as a nation and engineering as an industry, needs more non-traditional routes into engineering and especially to recruit female engineers in different ways. Diversity is required in the breadth of ‘pipeline’ into engineering hence the industry must work with Universities and the Government to provide these routes. Finally, we need to create awareness of the amazing accomplishments engineers achieve, both publically and internally within companies, which in turn will attract more females. Engineers have the capacity to positively impact society which naturally appeals to females so the industry needs the support to overcome the underlying barriers that stop women from pursuing a career in engineering.
If you would like any more information about British Gas then have a look at their website.
Thank you for reading and I hope you feel as inspired as I was. #WESBath #NWED
On 23 June 2015, National Women's Enginering Day, we welcomed more than eighty Year 8 and 9 girls onto campus from Bath Community Academy, Oldfield School, Ralph Allen, Wellsway and Writhlington Schools. The girls participated in a morning programme of experiments, demonstrations and hands-on engineering experience with postgraduates and academics from the Faculty of Engineering and Design.
At lunchtime, career pathway talks were given by Dr Elies Dekoninck, Senior Lecturer from Mechanical Engineering, Dr Valeska Ting, Prize Fellow and Lecturer, from Chemical Engineering and Dr Jun Zang, Reader, from Architecture and Civil Engineering. The audience consisted of staff and students from this University.
Following the talks we had the announcement of the winners of a postgraduate poster competition. The prizes were presented by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design, Professor Gary Hawley.
Talini Pinto Jayawardena, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Carla Da Silva, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Kemi Lawal, Chemical Engineering
Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Mechanical Engineering Jemma Rowlandson, Chemical Engineering
“Don’t wait to be invited” was the message of the day when a group of female undergraduates and postgraduates in the Faculty of Engineering and Design took part in a confidence building and career boosting workshop delivered by WISE trainer Vanessa Boone, Founder MD of Energise, on Wednesday 25th February 2015. The workshop was energetic, fast moving and fun with the students working on interactive tasks designed to boost self confidence and give them practical experience of being proactive about raising their profile. How to be confident when speaking in public and the importance of networking were all covered during the afternoon session alongside how to be assertive, interview techniques and self promotion without cringing. The event included the opportunity for the group to practise their new found skills as the afternoon concluded with refreshments and time to network. Those attending praised the “energetic and helpful speaker”, and said they had found the event “inspiring”, “gave me lots of confidence” and that they would “use the tips to raise my profile”, “remind myself to be assertive”, “ set personal goals” and that “fear is not real”. This was the first training event organised by the WESBath student group. If you would like more information on future events and activities email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the website at www.bath.ac.uk/engineering/women/society.
On 16th October 2014 two representatives from WES Bath, Mendy and myself, attended the Teen Tech event at the Bristol Pavillion. The aim of the event was to show teenagers the wide range of topics covered by the field of engineering, and explain where a career in engineering could lead them. The event was attended by a wide range of organisations, including Rolls-Royce and Airbus, each of whom performed interactive demonstrations to 300 senior school students from local schools. The wide range of participating organisations allowed for multiple engineering disciplines to be investigated by the students who gained a greater understanding of what engineering actually entails.
The WES Bath demonstration revolved around electrical engineering and involved an mbed circuit board that could play muscial tunes, make coloured led lights flash and display text on a small, lcd screen. We began the demonstration by asking the students if they could name any areas of engineering, and the majority of the answers we received were focussed around cars, engines and planes. We explained that engineering also covered areas including designing buildings and bridges, working with chemicals and designing wind turbines as examples.
The students appeared to enjoy our demonstration, and left our stand with a greater understanding of what engineering was and which school subjects were most important for a career involving engineering. They also appeared to be more comfortable with the concept of coding which was shown to be more straightforward than they had imagined. The WES Bath stand was very well received, and we were invited to return to demonstrate again at the following Teen Tech event in London.
Just wanted to share my experience at the November 2014 WES Conference with you all. As a recent recruit to the engineering field (my first degree is in Environmental Science), I was interested in joining the ‘community’ and making some contacts. The WES Conference was an excellent forum for this with many early / mid career engineers attending, and inspirational engineers speaking. The format of the event meant that Friday dinner gave me an excellent opportunity to mingle, and exchange LinkedIn contact details. So, as a networking opportunity, I would definitely recommend attending! However, although my main purpose was to make contacts, I actually came away from the Conference having gained a lot more than that. WES recognises that to become a ‘great engineer’ requires more than just engineering ability; you need to be able to communicate, think critically, and have confidence in your abilities and what you offer to a project or organisation. To support this, the Conference offered seminars by business leaders and management specialists that gave additional skills and challenged your way of thinking by providing new ideas and perspectives. In summary then: Was the WES Conference worth attending? Absolutely, I’ll be putting my name down for next year!
Members of WESBath at the WES Conference 2014
Attending the 6th annual WES conference was such a great opportunity given to me and 15 other Engineering & Design students from the University of Bath, including four of us from Elec Eng. The conference started with some inspirational talks which really warmed us up and made us feel more excited about the next day and about making a change in this world in general. The day was ended with a delicious dinner and some fun activities. The next day, we got to choose which 3 sessions to go to. One session that I found special was "Personal Presence: Communicating with impact." We got some valuable tips on how to seem more confident in meetings and interviews which is a very important thing for us to succeed in our careers.
Between the sessions we got to practice our networking skills and I even got the contact details of a person working in a company I would love to work in during my year long placement! I must admit that was really exciting. To sum it up, I think those two days were extremely beneficial and enjoyable and I would suggest that all female students should try attending one of the conferences during their 3/4 years of study.
Leen Jabban, 1st Year IMEE
WESBath arriving at WES conference
Mendy Mombeshora speaking at the WES Conference
On the 15th of November, 150 female students and 50 engineers (of both genders!) from across the UK converged to celebrate their shared passion of engineering and technology at Aston University during the sixth annual WES Student conference. Second only to the hosts, with 16 delegates, the University of Bath had a strong presence at the conference. This was partly thanks to the various departments in the Faculty of Engineering and Design that matched the sponsorships that were being awarded by WES Bath student group.
With ‘Engineering Inspiration’ as its motto, the conference aimed to create a dynamic environment that fosters career confidence amongst the attendees. This was accomplished through a number of panel discussions, talks and workshops that covered resources that every aspiring engineer needs in their toolkit, from roles models to career-life balancing strategies and self-awareness skills. Spanning across a number of different engineering sectors, corporations in attendance included Arup, Selex, PG and JLR to mention but a few. Not only did they advertise various opportunities available within their organisations, but they also supplied a number of early/mid career female engineers to share their experiences and provide insight into what it means to be a woman in engineering.
As one of the first student groups to be officially affiliated with WES, the WES Bath student group was given the opportunity to share the story of its journey as a means of inspiring other students to follow suit. The group chair, Mendy Mombeshora, gave a well-received talk that covered everything from the group’s inception to the activities that it has conducted so far. Following that, both the Mendy and the group secretary, Charlotte Thomas, were invited to attend a working group that featured members from other current and prospective student groups. The group was convened to discuss how WES could support student groups, the future students envisaged for affiliated groups and to provide a platform that allowed various groups to network and share their experiences.
Overall the conference proved to be a success for the University of Bath delegation, with individual students getting the opportunity to network and gain insights into their future careers and the WES Bath group forming links with other student groups from across the country and hopefully inspiring other students to form their own groups.
Chair of Student Women's Engineering Society, Bath
For those who haven’t heard about the group, the University of Bath WES is an affiliate group of the Women in Engineering Society (WES). The student group has just launched in the University of Bath with the main aim of encouraging young girls in school to explore the idea of studying engineering at university, as engineering is perceived to be a heavily male-dominated discipline.
Our first official event was an awareness appearance at the University Open Day on the 13th of September 2014. This was a huge success and the we really enjoyed chatting to the many potential students and their parents about our experiences as female engineering students (undergraduates and postgraduates). We also gave away some memorable University of Bath WES souvenirs as well as literature to help inspire many young girls thinking about a career in engineering, and those who are currently unsure. We hope to be able to encourage girls into studying engineering and dispel any myths about engineering being solely for the guys!
On 23 June 2014, Britain celebrated its very first national Women in Engineering Day promoted by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). The society has been active for the past 95 years, created to encourage young girls to choose engineering as a career. As a second year Mechanical Engineering student, I was lucky enough to attend.
There were presentations from Dr Irene Turner, University of Bath, Dame Sue Ion, Chair of NIRAB and Dr Peter Bonfield, Chief Executive of BRE Group. The presentations were followed by a question and answer session, in which many issues were raised regarding the lack of knowledge among young girls about engineering. Following the Q & A session, all event organisers, speakers and guests were thanked by Irene for their cooperation.
The event was followed by a networking session where guests were provided with food and drinks. This session allowed a more relaxed environment to chat with speakers and other engineers in the audience.
It is clear that the engineering industry needs to have more balance between genders. With some companies having less than ten per cent female employees, change is inevitable. The Women’s Engineering Society is trying to close the gap between genders and prove that girls are as capable in this industry as boys. With enough motivation and drive, this movement will result in great changes and soon we will see growing number of girls choosing engineering as a career.