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
Monday evening we had the honour of representing WES at the Female STEM Careers reception event, taking place in the Claverton Rooms at the University. With the likes of Arup, Dyson, Schlumberger and Shell at the cross-industry reception, we were able to hear from each company about their experiences in the industry from a female's perspective; whether you were to consider raising a family, travelling the world for career prospects or looking to change department in your job. To hear at first hand some of the most inspirational and enlightening stories, it outlined the many possibilities and opportunities for women in STEM related careers. The evening then concluded with a chance to network with the recruiters and representatives of each company, to ask any further questions and find out more about their year industrial placements, internships and graduate schemes.
Last Friday I was very lucky to have attended TARGET jobs' Future Female Engineers 2014 event at the Atkins office in Bristol. TARGET jobs also supply events such as ITs not just for the boys, which are based upon a female-only attendance. These events are set up to provide female engineers (or any science related degrees) with the opportunity to network with like-minded female students and professionals in the industry. The TARGET jobs gained event partnership with some of the most prominent companies in the science and engineering sector, giving guests the chance to finally put their foot in the door and work their magic. These companies ranged from Atkins, Aecom, Laing O'Rourke, Babcock, EDF Energy, BAE Systems, National Grid, NPS Group, Cummins to DSTL.
To attend the event was not a case of signing up and making your own way there. The event was exclusive, which entailed guests to have a phone interview before hand and subsequently offered a place if they met the general requirements. Food and travel was all taken care of – I certainly felt very looked after for the day! The day consisted of key speakers such as Sarah Cruddas, key journalist in science and technology, and Kate Martin, a chartered mechanical engineer at Atkins. This was followed by a team challenge, skills sessions (the chance to meet the recruiters and hear their do’s and don’t’s of an application / interview), insider insights, a panel Q and A with leading professionals and finally a drinks networking reception to conclude the event. We were given so many opportunities with our potential employers and recruiters - always make sure you put yourself forward and take down any names or business cards!
Overall the day was so well conducted and organised! I would recommend anyone to apply - if the opportunity arises, grab it! As anyone would, I always feel apprehensive with any phone interview, but it was not at all daunting. Since the event, I have already received emails from recruiters - as such I have gained so much out of Future Female Engineers!
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.