Women have a unique perspective, and can bring the sort of ideas and insights that will take UK engineering into the next century and beyond. Because how can any industry claim to be cutting edge when it’s lacking the perspective of half the world’s population? If the UK engineering industry is going to remain competitive and innovative, it needs more women.
And importantly, the more women who work in engineering and other STEM fields, the more likely it is that girls around the world will that they can take on these roles too. We can lead by example and teach them that anything is possible.
One of the great things about National Women’s Engineering Day is that it will highlight just how many opportunities there are for women in engineering. A lot of women seem to think that, if you want to work in engineering, you have to get your hands dirty. But this isn’t true. I think that if more women knew how many different sort of jobs were out there; the whole industry would change overnight.
For example, I work for my family’s welding business, but I’ve never ever touched an arc welder. Instead I work behind the scenes, fulfilling various commercial, financial, and marketing roles for the business. What I do is every bit as important as what our engineers on the ground do. In fact, without me the business would grind to a halt – just as it would without our welders, our drivers, our caterers, our admin staff, our managers and so on.
And that’s the thing – it takes hundreds of people doing hundreds of different jobs to keep any engineering business going. From the physical engineering work to office-based roles, every single one of those jobs could be done by a woman.
There aren’t many female welders in the UK, but all the ones I’ve spoken to talk about how much they relish the challenge. Again, I think if more women in the UK knew how satisfying welding is as a job, then we’d have more UK female welders.
With regard to my job, well, I love it. Sometimes I feel like an international jetsetter, attending engineering exhibitions around the world. All the engineers I’ve met have inspired me with their creativity and drive and I’m frequently astounded at just how glamorous my job feels.
Working in engineering gives you a chance to see the world and meet interesting people in an industry where no two days are ever the same.
Claire Spillane is finance and marketing director at Westermans International