Women have come a long way throughout the years from gaining the right to vote, to being able to join engineering institutions and flying an aircraft. This is mainly due to strong female leaders standing up for what they believe in and paving a path for the rest of us to follow.
But, only 12% of the UK’s engineering workforce are women. This is shocking. We need more female role models to demonstrate that engineering, which is known to be a male-dominant industry, is a viable option for women. Role models are needed so that the younger generation have someone to look up to and guide them.
There is a lot more work required in the industry before gender parity can be achieved, but showcasing strong female engineers is a great start to addressing this issue. So today, on International Women in Engineering Day we are raising the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to do so!
From the 1800s to now, female engineers continue to make their mark on history, creating ground-breaking inventions that alter our lives day-to-day.
Did you know that the windshield wiper was invented by a woman? Did you know the first computer program was invented by a woman?
Research is beginning to shed light on the long and varied role women have played in engineering, but the standardised history of the field still celebrates lone male engineers, who are (quite literally in the form of statues) put on pedestals. After 100 years, there is still much more work to do.
This is why I am an advocate for women in Engineering and here is my story.
Melissa Ahmed: My story
Engineering wasn’t my first choice of career. Since I was a child, I have had an interest in science and maths and really enjoyed art. I was very creative and spent hours exploring and trying to understand how things worked. When it was time for me to choose my degree subjects and specialise in one industry, I struggled to identify my ‘perfect job’.
I am fortunate to have very supportive parents who organised placements in different STEM industries so that I could have a sneak-peek into different industries and roles. This work experience was invaluable as it instantly gave me a feel for my dislikes and likes in certain jobs. This, paired with being inspired by my dad who was in aviation, led me to embark on Aeronautical Engineering as a degree.
Looking back, I was one of two in my Physics & Maths A-level classes, one of five females of a batch of sixty in the first year of my degree and the first female employed in the technical department on my R&D placement; these facts spurred me on to make a change.
Likeminded females who are in engineering need to devote time to showcase their jobs and stories to empower more females to consider taking a career in engineering.
The beauty of engineering lies in the fact that it is such a vast industry in terms of specialisms. The skills you learn are transferrable so you aren’t stuck in one job role – no one told me that at the time and I had to find it out for myself.
I have made it my mission to be a female leader in engineering, to be the female engineering role model I never had when I was at the start of my career. This is why I set up my own company, Techwuman Ltd*
International Women in Engineering Day
Today is a day for women to celebrate being strong females, being passionate about something, having a mentally stimulating job and most importantly contributing to improving not just our lives but the lives of our children and the children of the future.
Today, we are asking for women (and men) all over the globe to help raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.
If you have friends, relatives or colleagues in other countries we're asking you to involve them in your celebrations, they don't need to be engineers, just appreciate the contribution that women engineers make. Please help us to #ShapeTheWorld together #INWED20.
*Techwuman is an engineering consultancy and our company’s mission is to empower women in engineering, improve gender parity in the industry and to promote STEM careers to the next generation. Techwuman delivers activity days to primary schools across the UK to promote STEM at a grass-root level.
Techwuman is always on the lookout for new STEM Ambassadors at different stages of their career or education, be it undergraduates, postgraduates or fully qualified professionals. The Techwuman STEM Ambassador programme is designed to train people from the STEM industry to ‘give back’ to the industry by being role models allowing them to share their career pathways and knowledge.