women in engineering

February 11, 2017, by Grace Pownall

Women In Engineering: Part Two

By Grace Pownall, third year, MEng Hons Civil Engineering

On 2nd February, engineering students from across the faculty joined professional engineers from a range of industries to discuss what it is like to work in a male-dominated industry.

I am writing this blog exactly one year since I published a post called “How women are thriving in Engineering”, after attending the 2016 Women In Engineering event. It was a blog I was particularly proud to share, as equality and diversity in engineering is an important issue in my eyes.

Since that day, I have experienced life as an engineering myself through a summer placement. In fact, at the same company as one of the engineers I met at the last Women in Engineering event! I was pleased that she remembered me, and very grateful for her kind words of encouragement.

This year’s event

This year, proceedings kicked off with an introduction from Dr Barbara Turnbull, Deputy Head of Civil Engineering, and a member of the University’s Women in Science Engineering and Technology Group. She was instrumental in securing the Silver Athena Swan Award for the Faculty of Engineering in 2015.

Barbara explained how ‘Women In Engineering’ can mean something different to everyone. From her research into avalanche flows, she used an anecdote from a mountaineer to illustrate working in STEM disciplines: to get to the top of the mountain, metaphorical or literal,  you have to learn from your mistakes and push boundaries. This learning can be accelerated by listening to the experiences and successes of those who paved the path before you. This is why these sort of events are so valuable, because students, graduates, and senior professionals all benefit from sharing knowledge.

Inspiring stories shared by professional women in the industry

The stories I heard were really inspiring, and this year I was also able to contribute advice to first and second years as a result of my experience in work on placement.

In my discussion group, led by Temi Oguntusin and Sarah Speirs from WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, I heard what it was like to start a graduate scheme, reach a senior management role and how to make the most of opportunities for training and personal development.

The main advice I took from the evening is “don’t be afraid!” Don’t be afraid to ask questions, pursue your dreams, or to be [in a job] where you really want to be. I identified a lot with Temi’s experience after leaving university. Despite gaining higher grades in highways or water engineering modules, she pursued a career in structural engineering because it’s what she really loves. She said that what really matters when you come to apply for jobs is passion. This motivated me to keep working on my goal to become a structural engineer myself.

Interested in a career in engineering? Why not book a one-to-one session with one of our careers advisers to find out more about the diverse opportunities available. 

Posted in Student Bloggers